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Comment Drinking Water Isn't So Easy As You Think (Score 3, Interesting) 247

When I was a kid I did Unicef collection every Haloween. We got an orange cardboard coin box at school, and collected donations to it along with our trick-or-treat. Unicef used these funds to build water wells for people in Africa who had only access to contaminated surface water.

A decade or two later, we found that many of these wells accessed aquifers that were contaminated by arsenic. And that thus we kids had funded the wholesale poisoning of people in Africa, and that a lot of them had arsenic-induced cancers that were killing them.

OK, we would not make that mistake again, and today we have access to better water testing. But it caused me to lose my faith that we really do know how to help poor people in the third world, no matter how well-intentioned we are.

And we had better not go around curing disease withoput also promoting birth control. Despite what the churches say, and the local dislikes and prejudices. Or we'll just be condemning more people to starve.

Comment Re:All roads may run ill... (Score 5, Interesting) 227

I worked on a project this year to completely rewrite a company's signature application from the ground up. Objectively, you'd think that's something you never, ever want to have to do. But, having done it, I think planning a complete overhaul & rewrite into the product's lifecycle is probably a good idea.

Since the application was first written about a decade ago many, many features have been added with each upgrade. The scope and customer base have expanded. And programming technology has changed hugely during that time.

Rewriting the entire application is a massive effort, sure. But to truly modernize and streamline it, to get rid of the legacy cruft and take advantage of new tools that didn't exist 10 years ago, I think it's worth it. I also think it would've been wise to do this sooner than we did (though that wasn't possible in this case for business reasons).

So maybe when you're choosing a framework, don't worry about whether it'll be the right solution forever. Plan to reevaluate your decision every 3-5 years and change frameworks if something better comes along. And, yes, absolutely adopt the MVC model, because then you don't need to replace every part of your application if one becomes obsolete.

Comment Re:Fine, just give us back the ThinkPad (Score 1) 106

Agreed. I have a Z61t that is seriously starting to show its age. But the last ThinkPad I will seriously consider buying is the T420, which is no longer made. The current xx30 models (T430, X230, etc.) gratuitously changed the keyboard.

Seriously, Lenovo? You fscked with the ThinkPad keyboard?? The keyboard by which all other laptop keyboards were judged for well over ten years? You just threw that away?

I've been idly looking at "white box" laptops as a possible upgrade avenue, but I have no idea what's going to replace my Z61t. Hell, if I could upgrade its guts to something modern, I'd do it...

Comment Re:Er, wait, what? (Score 5, Insightful) 140

Well, nuclear reactions that we can turn off like laser-initiated fusion are a lot nicer than the alternatives. The inside of your car engine is a raging inferno shot with electric sparks and compressed with inexorable steel cylinders. That doesn't keep you from going on a nice drive with your sweetie.

Comment ABSO-FSCKING-LUTELY NOT! (Score 5, Informative) 1191

You are forbidden from deploying this design. Dear $(GOD), what the hell is the matter with you? Who told you this was a good idea? Which three-pleat consultant said that this highly technical readership wanted this site to look like a fluffy blog with fscktons of whitespace? How much money did s/he take from you? Have you caught them yet?

For those of you who would rather browse Slashdot without pictures, click the icon at the top right of the story column, and switch to Classic View.

Does. Not. Work.

This is real, pathetically simple, Mr. S:

  • Install Firefox.
  • Install NoScript plugin. Leave at default settings.
  • Surf to your site.

If your site does not operate correctly using this browser setup, --== YOUR SITE IS BROKEN!!==-- Please do not assume that the users on this of all sites are fscking morons who leave their browsers in an insecure state and happily execute just Any Damned Script. You're lucky I'm willing to whitelist fsdn.com, but just who the fsck is rpxnow.com, or ooyala.com?

Scrap the whole damned thing and start over. Better still: Don't start over. It's fine the way it is.

Comment FUD, Microsoft-Style (Score 1) 230

A press release is not a fiber rollout. I seriously doubt they have any genuine plans for an actual fiber roll-out, except possibly to the most lucrative neighborhoods.

Also, this mealy-mouthed "up to 1Gb" sets off my bullshit meter, and leads me to suspect that AT&T are going to try and do this on the cheap. OTOH, GFiber starts at 1Gb, and there's plenty of upside built in to their backbone.

What I would be very careful of is the agreements AT&T manages to strong-arm out of Austin in "exchange" for promsing to think about maybe deploying fiber someday. I could easily see AT&T wresting an agreement that grants AT&T exclusive access for 50 years to municipal poles for deploying new information services (as an "incentive," of course). Oh, and the agreement will have no or an extremely vague performance clause. Once they get that agreement, they can shut out all competitors and then do nothing, or as close to nothing as they can get away with.

Comment IOMMU (Score 4, Informative) 125

Yes, when I saw this I thought that this was a reason to make motherboard IOMMUs a security feature. Also, the DMA destination memory pages should not have the executable bit turned on. Recent generations of Intel/AMD CPUs have provided the ability to turn that bit off.

Comment Where Have I Seen This Before? (Score 1) 271

This sounds curiously like the model that the 3DO console was supposed to embody 20 years ago (well, 20 years minus ten days or so). In fact, I'm having trouble identifying any significant differences from it.

The idea as presented was to create a common reference platform and get multiple HW vendors to build to the spec and compete on price, like they all were doing with VCRs at the time. The 3DO Company itself wouldn't build anything, getting its money from per-disc royalties ($3/copy). Ultimately, three manufacturers put out 3DO-compatible machines -- Matsushita (Panasonic), LG (nee Goldstar), and Sanyo.

However, the 3DO console famously released at a staggering $700 (1993) and, despite several price drops, never really lost the stigma of being, "too expensive." As a consequence, the installed base never really took off to the same degree as Nintendo and Sega (Sony's Playstation didn't exist back then). As such, 3DO started publishing its own games, and doubled the per-disc fees. Still not enough. 3DO eventually shed all of its platform development talent and become another game development house until it died around 2003.

It'll be interesting to see if Newell can succeed where Hawkins failed.

Comment Re:Video Editing (Score 1) 226

Cinelerra works well - and has for years.

You have got to be kidding.

I have tried on several different occasions to get Cinelerra to do something useful, and have failed every time. The program is incredibly unreliable, and will crash or hang at the slightest provocation.

There are two versions in circulation -- the "original" Heroine Virtual version, still occasionally updated; and the "community" version. I have no idea what the alleged differences are.

It claims to accept a wide variety of video codecs, but in my experiments only appears to reliably support DV -- an uncompressed format that will quickly fill every disk you have.

Like Blender 3D, Cinelerra blazes its own trail for the user interface. In fairness, if you have some patience, it will gradually start to make sense. It's ugly as hell, but that ugliness could be forgiven if the program worked reliably and produced decent videos.

There are enough glowing reviews of Cinelerra out there to make me wonder if my setup is the problem, but I rather doubt it, since Kdenlive has worked just fine on the same machine. My current theory is that long-time Cinelerra users have learned over the years what bits are irredeemably flaky and just automatically avoid them.

The last time I tried Cinelerra in earnest was about two years ago. After about half a dozen crashes in an hour just trying to put together a slideshow-ish thing, I gave up and started using Kdenlive fairly successfully. But I still watch for updates to the Cinelerra packages. Given the number of updates I've seen over the past two years (very few), I'm not confident the warts have been addressed.

There are some nice things that Cinelerra (allegedly) does, and its timeline has a few advantages over Kdenline. If you know of some magical incantation that will get Cinelerra working crash-free, I will honestly give it another shot. But I'm not sanguine about the results.

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