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Comment Re:If it ain't broke... (Score 2) 289

It doesn't even have to be as large as a mainframe application.

For my senior thesis for my Bachelor's degree, I took on the task of taking on an old DOS flat file "database" system and creating a modern equivalent. I did the same as a sibling post, asking how they use it, what could be what, etc., and then I started to make the program. As I did so, I started looking at the data it held for myself--the format (which I forget at the moment, but I think it was something from IBM) could designate "columns" with data types, and then completely disregard those data types. So you would have a field like "weight", and then the data could be "X1444RTTJU8" because when they had a an entry related to a problem, they would use that field for notes. And the program had no problem with this, even searched on that.

I only had a short time to work on this, and I got in way over my head. In the end, I had to leave the company before I could complete the project. No one there was disappointed, though, as the only reason they seemed interested in replacing it was due to a corporate mandate about replacing technology no longer supported after X years, and I made the fifth or sixth person to attempt and fail (all of us being interns or otherwise low-level devs) on this very task.

What I took away from the whole project (and what I wrote as the final portion of my thesis) was that I approached it from a completely wrong angle: I was trying to copy the program, when instead I should have been focusing on the task and goals and working from there.[1] Not that you can't miss edge cases in this scenario, but you will be better able to handle them because you won't be trying as stringently to maintain an outdated input system.

[1] Although I likely wouldn't have gotten too far with this, either, as those who actually used it seemed unwilling to help me; they were all folks that seemed very set in their ways, resistant to any change, and I got the feeling that they saw a replacement as a threat to their jobs. In addition, all of them were trained to use a set of instructions that was "Press X, now press T", etc., and not actually describing what they were doing, but just how to do it. If the program suddenly disappeared, I suspect they would have no idea how to do half their jobs.

Comment Re:Not a good sign for gaming (Score 1) 128

This happened in the late 80s/early 90s as well, though; two games I remember in particular are Cool Spot, which I haven't played in over a decade but remember enjoying well enough as a kid, and M.C. Kids which I also recall as being okay (and, apparently, the Gameboy port became another Cool Spot game in North America and Japan, weird.)

These days it's a lot cheaper to just slap some promo stuff together for in-game advertising and use it in a bunch of different games. Of course, we still get the odd corporate game, like Sneak King...

I think this just shows the signs of decay (ha!) for EA, not for gaming in general.

Comment Re:Because the Vatican Has Its Own TLD? (Score 1) 73

If someone goes to and gets an advert for paint sales or something, yes, that's pretty benign.

Not so much so if you went to to look for information on the US President and instead found yourself with a page full of breasts. Many might prefer this new information (especially on slashdot; I know I'd rather see actual boobs then the boobs in Congress), but it's not as funny to those trying to do a grade school project, typing in ".com" by habit at work, or who has "delicate sensibilities".

Comment Re:Because the Vatican Has Its Own TLD? (Score 3, Insightful) 73

None of this really matters considering Vatican City has its own TLD of .va

Because absolutely no one went to when trying to get information about the White House in Washington, D.C.

(For those not in the know, was once a porn site; is the USG's website. According to Wiki the .com domain changed hands and content a little under a decade ago, shows how current I am.)

Comment Re:Move (Score 5, Informative) 561

You're making the assumption that the submitter has a choice in the matter; this may not be the case. The college I went to had one set of dorms (set up in an "8" format with two middle areas no one ever used) and all freshmen were required to live it in it unless they lived within a certain mile range of the campus. Even if we had been able to change rooms (which seemed possible, but only for when you returned from work term), you wouldn't notice much of a change unless you went from one extreme end of the dorms to the other.

Now, if they go to a state or large and popular college/uni, they might have options.

As to submitter, is this self-diagnosed ADHD or do you have a clinical diagnoses?

If clinical: are you taking medication to help with it? If so, perhaps its worth talking to your provider about a change in prescription/dose. If you're not taking meds, perhaps talking with your doctor or a school counselor and trying some might be helpful. Even if you could sound-proof your room, you're going to get tons of distractions all over college, so it's something to look into.

If self-diagnosed: Talk to a college counselor (my small one had two, though it could be hard to get ahold of them) or doctor if you don't have your own to get references to those who can officially diagnose you. This will make your college stay far, far easier. They can help you to control it, maybe do some of the aforementioned medication.

In either case, distractions like the ones you mention are a part of life, and you will have situations where you will be completely unable to use foam, ear plugs, white noise through headphones, or what have you, so working now to deal with these distractions instead of just trying to block them out is in your interest. (I know nothing about ADHD except the very general notion, which is another good reason to talk to university counselors (which can be cheap or free) or doctors.)

Comment Re:There goes the 4th Amendment (Score 1) 405

This is true, and a reason I always chide those who go on about the President controlling things like gas prices. However, in the case of laws, President Obama is slightly different: When he was campaigning for his first term, he was against immunity for telecos on warrantless wiretapping. But, while still Senator Obama, he voted for immunity, and has done many things since to keep it in action (like arguing against the journalists in the SC that they can't even challenge the law when there's no way to find out who can, IIRC).

So, yes, the President doesn't write or vote in laws, but he has the power to veto them. According to Wikipedia, he's used this power twice, once in each of his first years in office. He certainly hasn't used it on anything that should have been veto'd, like FISA extensions/renewals. Even if it were certain that whatever he vetoes would get the necessary overriding votes in Congress, it would still send a message.

As things stand, he's no better than the driver of the get-away van for a bank robbery who spends the whole time thinking/saying "this is wrong", but doesn't hesitate to drive for a moment.

I do thank President Obama for one thing, though: His actions have opened my eyes to how the Democrats are just as shitty as the Republicans, and that our two-party system is horrible.


In Wake of Poor Reviews, Amazon Yanks SimCity Download 511

An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from "In what must be a big blow for EA and Maxis, Amazon has stopped selling download copies of the just released SimCity. The game has at time of writing received 833 reviews on Amazon, and has an average rating of just one star. That's because 740 of those are one star reviews. Only 20 people gave it 5 stars. There's few better ways to gauge how a game has been received, and this is pretty damning as to how EA has handled the launch."

Comment Re:No backwards compatibility (no physical media?) (Score 1) 587

Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm in the (apparently vocally large) Slashdot crowd that will go out of our way to avoid buying anything Sony. However, Sony could still make some good decisions. And this is certainly not one of them. Were I not turned off by all of Sony's other shenanigans, I would by solely by the lack backwards compatibility and physical media (and, thus, second-hand sales!)

Comment No backwards compatibility (no physical media?) (Score 2) 587

One of the most damning things to me is the lack of backwards compatibility (at least, far as I can tell from the Engadget feed I've been sort of following). I lost all interest in the PS3 when they stopped including PS2/1 compatibility (yes, I know I can find older, used systems, but screw Sony). Considering the library many gamers have, I don't think that having one prior console's worth of compatibility is asking too much, especially to help boost early sales if the launch library is less than tremendous.

But a part of this that I find highly interesting that there's no mention of physical media. Plenty of talk about the cloud, downloading games in the background and playing them as they download (I will be highly interested to see how this works out, if at all), and an internal hard drive... but no physical media. I mean, BluRay is the obvious choice for Sony, but not a mention either in the Ars article or the Engadget feed (unless I missed it.) Even the concise "Informed System Architecture" shows all your regular parts of a system... except the media.

Comment Re:Bag bans are foolish feel-goodism (Score 1) 533

Why bother with a tax? It will just be misdirected or misappropriated in the government, and the manufacturer will pass it on to the consumer (unless you're talking about having it apply as a sales tax at the consumer level already.). Instead, let's have a law that everything that's not a consumable (everything, even stuff like Tupperware) have a two year, full-replacement warranty, where any shipping & handling is paid for by the manufacturer, and replacements must be a brand new item, none of this refurbished shit. I bet we'd see a huge uptick in quality across the board as businesses figure out it's cheaper to produce higher quality goods than to deal with paying S&H both ways plus the loss of a stock item plus the loss of time.

Comment Re:Umm, Ya (Score 1) 586

I believe there's a large factor that is the difference between the past upsets and now: AI.

Yeah, the printing press put most scribes out of work, but in their place popped up a lot of book salesmen because books suddenly became so cheap. However, you still needed humans at both ends of the chains (writer to salesman) to get the product to the consumer. With this turn, though, we're not just making mechanical machines to replace human work, we're making thinking mechanical machines to replace human work.

Sticking with the printing press example, let's take what things might be like in the "near" future: Consumer wants a book. Consumer goes online, downloads the first chapter of various books of interest, and picks one s/he wants. If the user wants an eBook or other digital format, that's the end. The only people necessary in this chain are the writer, the web administrator/developer/designer, and the ISP. However, the web admin/dev has created an automated system to upload and produce eBooks, so they aren't expressly part of this process. Similarly, the ISP has already laid/rented the cable and set up their servers for automatic protocol handling, so they aren't expressly part of this process, either. Thus, the only necessary person in this chain is the writer.

Okay, but that doesn't involve AI much, if at all, and that isn't the "near" future, that's the "now" future. So what if the consumer wants dead tree format? An automatic printing system prints the book on demand (only high-demand or brand new books are stocked), an automatic sorting and packaging system puts the book into a shipping container, where a conveyer belt moves it to the shipping truck. Depending on how "near" this is, you might need a human to properly put the packages in the truck, but in the further future I'm sure we'll have robotic hands that will be able to handle that (and better, because they can predict the best location for packages as they're added to the truck's packing list but before the package arrives at the truck).[1] This shipping truck is driver-less and makes its own way to a central shipping hub where the book is unloaded and mixed with other packages. These are loaded onto an automated bullet train (perhaps they'll still do the plane thing, in which case you would have pilots) in a similar manner, go through the process at another hub, and are put on an automated delivery vehicle. If there's no mechanism for automatically receiving packages (I'm thinking a large mailbox-like device that has locks and can dock with a port on the delivery truck), the consumer receives a call or text message (or a notification on their HUD!) that the truck is coming, and then that it is waiting outside. They go out, do whatever verification is in place to receive the package, and that's it. Max possible people involved in the process: 8 (writer, one for loading the book, one for handling the package at each end of the hub, +possible pilot and co-pilot). Minimum number of people involved in the process: 1, the writer (assuming robotic package handling and automated bullet train)

A similar process is used for most home decorations or, perhaps, even furniture: either the user has a basic 3D printer at home and orders the blueprints, then waits a bit; or orders the item from a company that has a high-speed, advanced 3D printer, in place of the book printer of my above example. AI is massively involved in all of this. Before we still had to actively work on or with machines. Now we just set them up with commands, conditions, and monitoring systems and set them on their way. Our machines can (or soon will) not only do the work for us, but do the basic [i]thinking about the work[/i] for us. That wasn't there for the wheel, or for the loom, or for even for initial bombers. And as AI research progresses, mechanical contraptions become more nimble (like this high-speed robot hand that can toss and catch a cellphone (near the end of the video)), and more and more things go digital, the need for humans in the process with continue to shrink.

It is a glorious future we may see in our lifetime; however, that would require our society to recognize and move away from greed-based capitalism to a more altruistic socialist (or sharing community, if you prefer) ideal before a rapid overtake of the machines, or we will burn in our own self-created brimstone. Money facilitates the trade of goods and/or services; if we can get over the concept of the need for money, we will be able to transition easier and be better for it.

[1] Interesting caveat: As the idea of digital books continue to expand, the demand for print books will continue to diminish. So, while the technology I described will become feasible, the cost of it may never catch up with the cost of maintaining a declining number of people to handle packages, at least in this scenario.

Comment Re:I call it "Monday Night" (Score 1) 256

The constant concern that my very involvement in anything brings down the overall happiness of the group. (Also, for my nearby relatives, I have nothing in common with them; I don't do small talk and become bored easily and would start focusing on other things, so my view is that the slight of not going at all is less than going and ignoring them.)

Comment I call it "Monday Night" (Score 5, Interesting) 256

Today is Monday, tomorrow is Tuesday. Tonight marks one complete rotation (roughly) of our planet around our sun.

I have no idea what my community is doing, but I plan to treat it as any other night, with the exception that I get tomorrow off. As I've grown older (27, for reference) and gotten out and lived on my own I find that annual celebrations hold little meaning to me, including my own birthday. If I'm going to celebrate, it's going to be for a relevant, contemporary event. If I'm going to make changes to my life, it's going to be when I realize those changes need to be made, not some arbitrary date. If I want to get together with loved ones, I'll do it when the urge strikes (at least, in so far as those I want to spend time with are also available.)

(Of course, I've no friends, no close relatives, and am anti-social, so my view could be skewed.)

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Systems programmers are the high priests of a low cult. -- R.S. Barton