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Comment I wonder... (Score 1) 161

I wonder what would happen if Google just turned a country off. Just boom, no Google for you. No Google, no Gmail, no Youtube. I wonder if it'd make a noticeable impact on a GNP. Of course, Youtube and Google's other functionality might balance themselves out in terms of productivity gained or lost, so it might be a wash. At least, once the rioting quieted down.

Comment Re:Funny Story... (Score 1) 252

I don't know, really. I just always seem to somehow end up in pico (or nano I suppose) at some point in the system install or on a new account somewhere. Oh yeah, IIRC it's usually 'crontab -e'. A few years back I stole a bash_rc.d directory style approach to bashrc from cygwin. I should just sanitize my startup scripts and check the whole damn directory into github. That'd let me pull my user environment to any new machine I ever have to work on, and I'd have VISUAL set by default after that. Hmm. Probably not a bad idea...

I like the directory-based setup. It's very easy to specialize by machine, OS type, and so forth. I'm always tempted to write something to let me manage the entries in it better, but so far managing them manually hasn't pissed me off sufficiently to actually go do that.

I'm usually an emacs guy for editing source and a vi guy for editing system files. If I need to make a quick change to source, I'll fire vi up for that, too. This always seems odd to me, but I try not to let it bother me.

Comment Funny Story... (Score 4, Interesting) 252

Back in the 90's one of the contracting gigs I took was security auditing code for Data General, for their B2 unix certification. Our team was mostly doing the C standard library but once we finished that we started working on the utilities. One of my co-workers got vi (I got awk and telnetd, but that's another funny story entirely.) He wasn't a fan of vi when he started but he turned into a vi guru and fanatic as he started going through the code. At one point I mentioned that Emacs had a vi emulation, and he started going over it to see how it differed from real vi. I seem to recall that he thought it was a pretty good emulation overall, but he lamented the lack of a couple of fairly esoteric features of vi. We also found a comment in there from the 70's about how the author didn't really like how he was handling something to do with the terminal handling, with a note to fix it one of these days.

I never liked that newfangled vim. It's far too... colorful. I usually swap it out for nvi, which is much more vi-like. Distributions (like Redhat) that install pico as the default editor make me punch someone. Maybe the guy who thought pico should be considered in any way an acceptable UNIX editor. I always have to swear, abort back to the command line, and export VISUAL=vi.

Comment Wait What? (Score 2) 185

They shut down a project before it was a couple billion dollars over budget? That's blinding efficiency by government standards! HP must have really, really sucked for that to have happened. I'm gong to have to go look at the story.

Oh, I see. It started under EDS auspices a few years back. Pretty light on details other than that, but let me guess, EDS proposed Citrix as a solution right out of the gate and set up the server on some 286 that they found in Ross Perot's attic. Am I getting warm? I'm pretty sure I'm getting warm, because EDS is a one-trick pony, and their trick sucks. Doesn't matter if you're setting up an accounting system or a next generation war ship, EDS will find SOME way to install Citrix on it. I'd say "and make it suck" but that's kind of redundant when you're talking about Citrix!

Too bad for the Government EDS is pretty much the only game in town if you need some IT contracting done. Enjoy your Citrix!

Comment Re:270 mile range seems good (Score 1) 525

Depends on what you're up to! I've driven from Denver to the West Coast a few times now. Out west you can drive for miles and not see any clue that humans inhabit the planet other than the road. No cars, no buildings, no gas stations. Range anxiety is a problem in a regular gasoline-burning car, much less anything using alternative fuels. Hell driving out here from the East Coast in a diesel U-Haul, I missed a stop for diesel near the Kansas border and had to make my way down to an off-the-interstate farming cooperative that seemed to be located in the... Twilight Zone. Going off the main road in Kansas starts feeling surreal pretty quickly.

Sure an electric would be fine for the daily commute and even most of my drives in the mountains don't usually go over a couple hundred miles tops, but there are some use cases in the middle of the country where even if you had ample recharging stations you'd probably still want a conventional car.

Comment Yikes (Score 1) 1176

I'm not entirely certain that if my car's computer went haywire, I'd be able to stop it either. It's a manual transmission, but is the stick actually connected to anything or is it all drive by wire now?

Back in the day I had an RX7 that was prone to flooding. I got pretty good at pulling the fuel injector fuse, starting it and plugging it back in before the car stalled. If you had an extra few hundred bucks laying around you could also install a switch that would cut the power to the injectors from the dash. That might not be a bad idea on some of these newfangled cars -- a toggle switch with a direct method of killing the engine with no computers in the way. The RX7 also had a throttle that was prone to sticking, but it was pretty easy to pop it into neutral, pull to the side, turn off the engine, pop the hood and hose down the throttle assembly with silicone lubricant whenever that happened (That was a VERY fun car to drive!)

Comment Play With My Balls (Score 1) 279

I have four two-inch 1.1 pound steel ball bearings (What did you THINK I meant?!) that I can whip out and twirl or juggle if I'm feeling particularly adventurous. It's a nice break from typing and they're heavy enough for it to feel like real exercise. You can get 'em on amazon.com, just search for 2" steel ball bearing. Make sure you actually click on the 2" ones, they're just the right size!

Comment Oddly... (Score 2) 318

You see a lot of companies make some really, and I mean REALLY, nonsense decisions to upgrade to some shiny cool thing that some manager somewhere read about in PC magazine. Like Citrix. So they add Citrix to their IT infrastructure and it sucks, because Citrix ALWAYS sucks, and everyone hates it, and now all those expensive PCs they put on everyone's desks are nothing more than dumb terminals to slower, less useful environments. Or, for an example closer to home, back in the 90's IBM replaced their mainframe based E-Mail system (Profs) with Lotus Notes, arguably the worst possible system for E-Mail. Just, you know, because... And Profs was so much better than Lotus Notes, it wasn't even funny. I'd have qualified that with "For E-Mail," but really, anything you could shoe-horn into Lotus Notes could probably have been shoe-horned into Profs and been better. But you know, Lotus Notes was shiny.

Yet you really don't see similar kool-aid drinking driving the replacement of COBOL. You'd think by sheer chance some dimwit PHB would come in and arbitrarily decide "Oh let's replace all that COBOL code with something written in Ruby on Rails by an intern," because he'd just read about Ruby on Rails on PC magazine and was impressed with how quickly you could develop a web-based "Hello World" application.

Admittedly a probably largish number of PHBs have attempted that and subsequently been fired by incompetence, but you'd think enough of those projects would limp along because they've already spent so much money, effort and time that to admit defeat would mean admitting gross incompetence at every level of management straight up to the CIO. Which, I'm pretty sure, is why Lotus Notes and Citrix are still around.

Funny story, back in the 90's when IBM was replacing Profs with Lotus Notes, some dim-witted PHB decided "Oh well PCs can do anything that mainframes can do, so let's write a Lotus Notes replacement to RETAIN!" RETAIN being the mainframe-based app they use for trouble ticket tracking and bug fixing across, I'm pretty sure, all their products. Well long story short, that project went on for a couple of years and then quietly disappeared. A decade later, they were still using and actively maintaining RETAIN. I wouldn't be surprised if it were still being used and maintained to this very day, even after IBM's acquisition of Rational.

Comment Ooo 'e wants a progress bar! (Score 2) 736

We'll be sure to take a resource off of developing the application we're selling and get him right on that! Oh, no it's quite all right, the schedule's slipped 14 times since we started, but the schedule can just take one for the team, can't it? After all, you have to know how long that thing you're going to do ONE TIME is going to take! It's not like your computer can do TWO THINGS or anything! We wouldn't expect you to do something ACTUALLY PRODUCTIVE rather than watching our progress bar!

Is why.

Hmm. I wonder if I wrote an app that was nothing BUT progress bar, if people would go for it.

Some developers have already come to the conclusion that installation is a prime advertising timeslot. So even if anyone was inclined to write a progress bar, it'll still end up ad-laden and annoying.

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