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Comment BASIC (Score 1) 383

BASIC, back in the day. I started teaching myself at 13, on a TI 99/4A. The school I was attending at the time had barely heard about computers, much less come up with a way to try to teach someone that young about them. I was actually starting to dabble in assembly language on that machine, and managed to get a sprite to move in response to me moving a joystick around. The school may have been woefully uninformed, but the public library was a pretty good resource.

A fortunate move to upstate New York put me on a track to pick up some classes on BASIC and Pascal at the high school and Watfiv and assembly language at a local university that had a high school summer program. My senior project in high school was a graphing program that generated several kinds of graphs using Apple Pascal and the turtle graphics package that came with it. The system could barely handle it, but it was pretty spiffy. I wrote my own keyboard input routines that would allow me to set up fields of a specific size that would only allow certain characters to be typed into them.

College was more Basic, which I was entirely fucking sick of by then, and some scripting languages. I got my intro to REXX there, which was much nicer than Basic. I switched schools into a more CS-oriented program and picked up C, Ada and COBOL. By then I was starting to hear about this newfangled C++, which really sucked back in the early '90's, let me tell you. They didn't even have a STL yet. They started talking about adding templates to the language a few years later.

By then I knew my way around C pretty well, but mostly had to work on the shitty proprietary languages of the 90's. I got into some work that involved actual C programming in the mid 90's, and had a pretty solid decade of C programming. Since 2005 it's been a pretty steady mix of Java and C++, along with a bit of maintenance on some really badly-designed projects in Perl, Ruby and TCL. I'm currently doing a mix of C++ for hardware-level access to some specialty hardware I'm working on, and Java to provide some web services associated with that hardware. I might get into some Javascript to put it all together, but I'm going to try to leave that to the guys who are more comfortable with Javascript than I am.

I don't see much new coming along the road. .net, go and rust are all sufficiently close to Java or C++ that they really don't interest me. Maybe if someone offers some large briefcases full of cash to work with them. I'd be more interested in doing some hand-optimized assembly language and perhaps some GPU programming, but that would probably take another decade to get good at.

Comment Re:Bullshit, Todd. (Score 1) 221

Nobody was forcing them to be parents. They were prepared to be parents and take the financial and emotional responsibility... that was the whole point of the procedure.

Yes, for a child born of their own genes. There are numerous disadvantages to raising a child who is not of your own genes. Such offspring is much less likely to be successful in every way due to a number of factors. Your offspring literally inherits traits you gained during your lifetime. This is important for creating rapport between parent and offspring. Keep in mind that it's a typical instinct for an ape to kill all the offspring of other males when he takes over a female.

Comment Re:How much CO2? (Score 1) 203

It's not that much. The US military (and presumably others) has been experimenting with artificially creating cloud cover for decades. Conspiracy theories aside, there are a couple of relevant patents. One of them basically involves special afterburners, and the other one involves spraying metallics (just like the conspiracy theorists said, whee!)

Whether we should be doing this or not doesn't really have any bearing on whether we should be doing the other things, though. We could do both.

Comment Re:DRONE ON (Score 1) 203

On top of that, it's a stupid fucking argument to be making. Carbon emissions are not evenly distributed. A handful of the worlds rich assholes (read: us) are doing the vast majority of the climate change (See figure 1).

India and China are trying as hard as they can to come up to our levels of carbon release. This is a problem that has to be solved at a deeper level. It has to simply be cheaper not to pollute. Therefore this is where the bulk of the research should be going.

Comment Re:19th and 20th century powerhouse (Score 2) 200

Solar panels have a very large capital expense, they are cheap in the long run, but they are not feasible for running industry in poor countries.

Raw, ready-to-mount, single-crystal panels are down to $0.50/watt now, in pallets of ten at about 350 watts each, and have good lifetimes. Even adding the control electronics and batteries for nighttime and bad weather power, and replacing the batteries periodically, that's cheaper than building and running coal plants and their distribution infrastructure (even at third-world labor prices).

The control electronics is mostly semiconductor devices and still benefiting from Moore's Law. Solar panels are still improving, as are batteries (following their own Moore's Law like curves.) Solar has a factor of several in efficiency yet to go, and lot of room for cheaper manufacture. Batteries are pretty efficient, but still have lots of room for improvement in charge/discharge rates, lifetime, and manufacturing cost. Coal plants, meanwhile, are already close to as efficient and cheap to run as they can get. So solar will continue to improve its lead.

The main remaining advantage to coal plants is grid power gives suppliers an ongoing revenue stream and a captive market, while solar provides only an occasional capital purchase.

(But why do you never hear about the greenhouse effect of solar panels?)

Comment Re:It would be... (Score 1) 204

I'm not sure it would help against your pretty sever case of confirmation bias. In my commute there is a great percentage of cars doing stupid shit that endanger other people, and there are seldom any cyclists doing that.

About fifty percent of the cyclists I see on the road are doing something spectacularly stupid. These things range from riding the wrong direction to completely ignoring signals and signs. Perhaps this has to do with where I am driving, which is primarily around Napa, Lake, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. I am very cautious around cyclists, because it doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong, I don't want to kill some schmuck with no appreciation for the laws of physics.

Comment Re: Systemd! (Score 1) 281

AMD driver support is and always has been a PITA. This continues to be true, although many people say that it is becoming less true. Meanwhile, nVidia Linux driver support is more of a PITA than it was back in the olden days, so there's really nothing to be happy about unless you're an intel fan.

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