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Comment blantant-predator moral honeypot (Score 1) 168

A public act by an organization ignoring robots.txt will only lead to the justification of other organizations ignoring robots.txt.

So what? When DoubleClick argues that they ought to have the same advantages as Archive.org, they'll only manage to look like douchebags reaching their filthy hands into a cookie jar.

It's not always a bad thing to set up douchebag-honeypot moral exemption, even if it does depend on the mass audience (mostly) managing to find two sticks to rub together.

The real solution here is to make the directives in robots.txt more explicit concerning the predatory/non-predatory use cases.

Comment thou shalt not deviate (Score 1) 70

I once read a book by Linda Hill that I personally found amazingly valuable, but only because I was careful not to light any matches, because her presentation was dry, dry, dry.

Because of the Indian incompetence story here on Slashdot this morning, I went to paste a link into my files, and chanced upon a past entry concerning HCL Technologies, a topic that Linda Hill has addressed in video, and soon I found myself watching a clip of hers on YouTube I hadn't seen before.

Linda Hill on empowering young sparks at HCL — July 2016

The problem in India with the educational system is that the system dictates and student repeats. ... We all had to unlearn how we were educated. And the leaders had to unlearn what they thought leadership was about. Because if you grow up in that kind of system, when you're a leader what you think your role is, is that you're supposed to set direction and make sure nobody deviates from it. That's fundamentally how they saw their role.

And here we have this Wikipedia article, where the unstated premise seems to be "Surprise! Derf-derf-derf, Wikipedia doesn't actually practice zero-deviation culture, despite their publicly assigned role as the plastic–pocket-protector paragon of geek dysfunction.

No, instead what we have is this: if a source is broadly flagged as tainted, it becomes open season to replace this source with a better citation wherever and whenever, without expecting significant blow back.

Isn't that leadership enough?

Is the underlying zero-deviation fixation that motivates this story just a tired strawman? Or is this derf-derf strawman meme playing to a real audience?

Well, I personally would run, run, run if I found myself in that audience, because anyone who doesn't is doomed to be soon be looking up at India as the management enlightenment movement that just passed you by with a big whoosh.

Comment Re: My experience... (Score 2) 437

I don't see a problem with this. You want specific levels of error handling? Put it in the spec.


#include "no_abe_normal.h"

If you're not familiar with this convention (it appears you haven't been in this business long enough to hear the pathetic whimpers of Forma L. val d'Ation sequestered away from public shame in an attic antechamber), the "h" stands for "head".

Comment can you do the job? (Score 3, Insightful) 333

Republicans only care about money. Can you do the job? Good. Get to work.

Cutting red tape to ribbons is an intrinsically easier job than building up effective layers of regulation that prevent the public interest being bent over a barrel, while the longest of all possible rubber gloves rummages around for the better part of a trillion dollars.

Evidently, no money was harmed in the operation.

The job, as I see it, is a little harder to accomplish, once you concede that there is such a thing as effective regulation, though it's yet far from a science; science also being a discipline where time after time ones best efforts fall short, and yet one perseveres.

In the best case scenario, even after regulation becomes more of science, it will still be double hard: hard to do and hard on the ego.

Kind of makes a guy want to double down on only caring about money, setting oneself up on a lavish private beach, and watching the glorious Egos soar.

Comment Re: Forget the graphic cards... (Score 1) 93

Now obviously something was wrong with the polling data.

Because why? Because popular opinion has guaranteed monotonic convergence? At a guaranteed quadratic convergence rate?

Just what part of "moving target" is so hard for people to understand?

Candidate A shits her pants at the front of the boat. Everybody rushes to the back of the boat.

Candidate B begins barfing up a taco bowl. Everybody rushes back to the front of the boat.

Blather. Foam. Repeat.

The only reason Trump won is because on the day of the election, there were more disgusted voters headed to the back of the boat than the front of the boat.

Polls, especially rolling meta polls, have an intrinsic lag of two to four days. I clearly saw on the 538 graphics momentum building toward the rear bulkhead as we rounded into election day. After I extrapolated the trend a few days forward to compensate for polling lag, I was not surprised by the final outcome.

There was more than enough disgust in both directions to support either outcome. Another Billy Bush tape in the final week could easily have turned the tide. This was not a normal election where the polls were tracking a slow convergence of the undecideds. The polls were tracking a mad (and futile) scramble for the voters to distance themselves from whichever paragon of disgust was recently the most salient.

Moving target. The polls were no less instantaneously accurate than they've ever been. They just don't work very well when neither candidate has a redeeming feature, and the electorate goes into orbit around a positive pole in the complex plain.

How is this even remotely difficult to comprehend?

From where I sit, it's all bog-standard Electoral Engineering for Dummies, 101.

Comment Re:"Disruptive" (Score 1) 56

I'm a card-carrying Goldman Sachs conspiracy theorist. I really do think they systematically rig the market to their ultimate advantage, one ballsy five- or ten-year bamboozle after another.

Their main obstacle is that it's very hard to fool people twice with the same bullshit, so there always has to be a new fundamental disruption lurking around the next corner. I don't yet know what AI really is, but I sure know it's covered in fleece.

A sure tell is the narrative of nested boxes: each shiny thing within the dark thing is ever an order of magnitude more disruptive, more profound, and more lucrative.

The innermost thing is so brilliant, set against such a dark background (exponentially dark, by the miracle of multiple contrast-enhancing frames), it blinds you altogether.

Comment motes on mute (Score 2) 1221

The only flaw I can find is when Jupiter ignites there is a sound, which of course there wouldn't be.

This is one of the most ridiculous memes ever. Sound is a mechanical vibration, and Jupiter probably vibrates like hell after it ignites.

What people mean is that there is no direct transmission of physical sound waves through the vacuum of space.

Snooping Through Walls with Microwaves
Laser microphone

On 25 August 2009, U.S. Patent 7,580,533 was issued for a device that uses a laser beam and smoke or vapor to detect sound vibrations in free air ("Particulate Flow Detection Microphone based on a laser-photocell pair with a moving stream of smoke or vapor in the laser beam's path"). Sound pressure waves cause disturbances in the smoke that in turn cause variations in the amount of laser light reaching the photo detector.

Or you could drop a few thumb-sized motes.

I like 2001, the Russian Solaris, and A Scanner Darkly.

Blade Runner and Alien were better than a jab in the eye.

If we further widen the net to include Space Fiction, The Wrath of Kahn rocks; while A New Hope and WALL-E both have their moments.

If we further wide the net to include any form of thematic overlap, I'd include The Right Stuff, Apollo 13, the first Back to the Future, the first Iron Man, select chunks of The Terminator franchise, RoboCop, Young Frankenstein, Dr Strangelove, and certain aspects of The Fifth Element. One might even include the sensibility of Tree of Life or Hugo.

I'll also give an honourable to The City of Lost Children, because I would actually rewatch that movie. Can't recall much of anything about the plot (not usually a good sign), but there's plenty of there there in other regards. In a pinch, I could rewatch Dune as an entertaining car wreck.

Unfortunately, much of the rest of the canon only serves to rouse my appetite without entirely beddin' her back down.

Note that I did not exclude any Spielberg movies by accident. If I had to rewatch one, it would be THX 1138. Spielberg is so sentimental, I'm soon humming Indian Love Call and wishing it would work.

On my list as the least science fiction film ever made would be the original Matrix. Perhaps the humans harvested for their cerebellar electricity was a satirical neoliberal talking point adapted from Ayn Rand.

Comment Thomas Voss on GUI by centerfold (Score 1) 191

Interview: Thomas Voss of Mir — October 2014

Obviously there are disadvantages to having only one graphics language, but the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. ... Android made the same decision to go that way. Even Wayland to a certain degree has been doing that. They have to support EGL and GL, simply because it's very convenient for app developers and toolkit developers — an open graphics language. That was the part that inspired us, and we wanted to have this one graphics language and support it well. And that takes a lot of craft.

So, once you can say: no more weird 2D API, no more weird phong API, and everything is mapped out to GL, you're way better off. And you can distil down the scope of the overall project to something more manageable. So it went from being impossible to possible. And then there was me, being very opinionated. I don't believe in extensibility from the beginning — traditionally in Linux everything is super extensible, which has got benefits for a certain audience.

If you think about the audience of the display server, it's one of the few places in the system where you've got three audiences. So you've got the users, who don't care, or shouldn't care, about the display server.

How is it that I never fall into the category of people described as "users"?

Does what I do for ten hours a day, every day, not fall into the semantic category of "using"? Me, and everyone like me? How do we always find ourselves filed under "a certain audience"? Well, this "certain audience" is today crying no giant room-temperature crocodile tears—neither any small, steamy gnat tears.

Here's the underlying problem: "user", as fantasized by far too many software developers, is the centerfold normalization of real womanhood.

Comment Re:No Human Element? (Score 1) 81

I thought Poker was a game of understanding your opponents not only based on past actions with cards but also by looking at facial expressions, body language and determining whether or not they have a good hand. Along with that, a big part is developing subtle gestures to throw your opponents off.

Hollywood much?

Also, cops fight crime mainly by experience tragic science field trips in early childhood.

Here's a pro tip. If the actors are loving it, it has probably had the living Snopes kicked out of it, supposing there was any at all to begin with.

Comment Re:They may have IP (Score 1) 150

Actually, you only came second out of the small group of readers who didn't also have a second response to the day's story that was more worth the bother of typing out.

It's one of those tasks in life that naturally goes to the few.

Perhaps if I had twenty hands, and could race to be first on all my instantaneous takes at the same time I would finally embrace the joy—the joy I have witnesses so many times in others—of rushing to post the obvious.

I'm at such a huge disadvantage here. By the time I winnow my winning candidate(s) down to hands available—just that small extra delay is enough—I'm probably last off the starting blocks. Hence my decades of sour grapes at those who excel me.

Comment my first diss (Score 1) 150

The IBM PC was an overpriced, slipshod piece of hardware even by the standards of the time.

The keyboard was indestructible. The case was a tank. The monochrome monitor displayed 25 rows of 80 columns, including upper and lower case letters.

Before the IBM PC was introduced, the personal computer market was dominated by systems using the 6502 and Z80 8-bit microprocessors, such as the TRS 80, Commodore PET and Apple II series, which used proprietary operating systems, and by computers running CP/M.

More than 50 new business-oriented personal computer systems came on the market in the year before IBM released the IBM PC.

Very few of them used a 16- or 32-bit microprocessor, as 8-bit systems were generally believed by the vendors to be perfectly adequate, and the Intel 8086 was too expensive to use.

Unfortunately, the IBM PC also included a few deliberate sandbags.

IBM decided to use the Intel 8088 after first considering the Motorola 68000 and the Intel i8086, because the other two were considered to be too powerful for their needs.

IBM never figured this was their last entry into the PC business. It was supposed to be a trial balloon. They had a zillion reasons to cripple the first edition, both in terms of processing power and in terms of memory expansion capacity.

By the way, did you actually use a TRS 80, Commodore PET, or Apple II? I used all three. Realistically, these all sucked for any serious purpose—except for learning the difficult art of programming the hard way.

It was just the other night I realized how starting my programming career on a TRS 80 with the notoriously unreliable tape drive influence my programming style for years to come.

No, BASIC did not ruin me. (I also picked up APL, several dialects of assembler within a year, rudimentary Pascal, some LISP, some FORTH, and most of C just as soon as I could get my hands on it.)

What did ruin me was the inability to curate a subroutine library of my favourite helper code. It just too took long to merge one chunk of code off cassette into another. (I believe the merge mode was that whatever new BASIC program you loaded just wrote right over top of any existing line numbers.) The TRS 80 was the computer I could use at school for free, which I did after school every day. Never had one at home until much later.

There was a certain kind of robustness you just didn't worry about, because every single program was pretty much home-cooked from scratch. At most, one might load something vaguely similar and then cannibalize some of the common bits.

Agile, look out—you ain't gonna need it. Every line of code ended up written in the least general way possible, so long as it sped up the code entry process.

Fortunately, I never had to use a cassette drive on an IBM PC.

On the IBM PC, I still had to multi-pass the compiler by switching floppy disks during the compile and link cycle, but that's a whole other story.

You know, the "standards of the time" included Heathkit, and Hewlett Packard (back when that still meant doing the right thing), and Tektronix, and later Compaq. The hobby computers were junk in part because everyone knew it was going to be a brisk ride. SOMEDAY SOON THERE MIGHT EVEN BE LOWER CASE. Basic economics.

Except for the IBM sandbag trick. That was old school economics, a first sour taste of something us hobbyists had not yet had to worry about.

That was the true legacy of the original IBM PC. It was the first coldly calculated, deliberate consumer diss. We all hates it forever for exactly that one thing.

Comment probably = guess again (Score 1) 78

because Canada uses the metric system but probably still buys its printing presses from the U.S.

Or maybe, just maybe it's the entire infrastructure of automated bill-handling equipment, including vending machines?

But I'm sure it will grief some neatfreak crack dealer who feels compelled to store giant mountains of bills in his metric utility room—no wait, Canada still uses two-by-fours (for which neither dimension is a round number in any system of measurement) and 16" stud centers.

Comment Re:I find your lack of faith disturbing... (Score 1) 388

You will be hard-pressed to make a case that human intelligence is anything but a catastrophic failure and/or malfunctioning system by any rational standard.

Yes, but the key step in your argument is not what you think. The exact moment you admit "rational standard" as a viable yardstick, your human intelligence steps off a plank into catastrophic failure.

QED.

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