Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Do I have a choice? (Score 1) 103

I'm with you...We're going to have to pass legislation on a national level to rein in Microsoft (and other greedy corporations) autocratic greed and forced customer behavior.

When has ANY product before this be forced on people by the vendor? (I understand federal needs for things like new features in automobiles. However, I do not accept that GM, or any other vehicle manufacturer, has the right to tell me that THEY can dictate to me what tires I must buy, or when, specifically, I must surrender my vehicle for "periodic service" on THEIR schedule, not mine.)

It's just another symptom of oligarchy gone wild!

Comment This Bizarre Practices Incentivises Lousy Products (Score 1) 316

If you make a second stream of income from your products...like repair...there is a perverse incentive to design your products to require frequent repair. If you pay $800 for the cellphone, and get it repaired only infrequently by your local guru, you'll probably spend $1,000-1,200 over the full lifetime of the phone.

Now, if you can buy that phone for $500 (but I doubt they'll actually lower the selling price), you'll now spend $2,000-2,400 over the same lifetime, you are a customer worth up to $1,200 more to the seller over the lifetime of the product. The lousier the phone, the more repairs it will demand; the more repairs it demands, the higher the sellers' profit. It also will probably serve to reduce local sales tax revenues by shipping phones to where the service won't be taxed, so cities and counties will get poorer, and service will take longer (oh, but we'll give you faster service for only a slightly higher (50%) premium!)

This is a perverse incentive to drive quality down so as ti increase future "repair and service" revenue...by charging, say, $250 to replace a $50 battery, because a local business person, making a living off after-market repair, could do it for $25 for that same $50 battery. So, if the batteries replaced by the vendor are half as good as those provided by the aftermarket repair option, you end up paying lots more for the service your technology delivers to you.

This is how oligarchy works. If Congress and the Courts don't stop this perverse scheme to capture excess revenue through "restraint of trade," we'll probably all have to go back to land-line phones and keep our beloved Windows 7 computers for the indefinite future. The effects will produce short-term gains, and stagger our economy with higher costs and lower quality, causing the markets for new products to decline dramatically.

Hey, we have the congresscritters we let the largest companies pay for...so, what could POSSIBLY go wrong if sale no longer means "sale," but "lease?"

Comment The First Hardware I fell in Love With (Score 2) 174

My paean to the IBM 1403, with which I've spent many loving days and nights:

The clunky printer attached to the IBM 709 "mainframe" computer was a slow, lumbering monster. But the practice, in the day, was to use the smaller (only $250,000) IBM 1401 computer to load decks of program/data punched cards onto tape, the tape "mounted on the IBM 709" "mainframe" for execution, then the program's output to be written to tape (our 709 had 8--later 12--729 tape drives), and carried back to the IBM 1401 for printing of results. A "job ticket" specified which card decks went to tape, and which tapes would then be sent to the IBM 1403 attached to the 1401. And, that was the marvel: It could print several hundred pages in just a few minutes, often as graphs composed of asterisks, dashes, and other symbols, representing the points on the axes and the data points computed. Crude graphs, to be sure, but very effective to show non-technical executives. All in marvelous black (or blue) on white paper

The 1403 was the star of the show. Nobody much cared about the support task of copying boxes of punched cards to tape. They loved watching the lights on the huge "front desk" of the 709, the source of most TV footage of "a computer at work," in the day. But, they loved the speed, efficiency, quality, and distinctive (but relative quiet of the closed-box printer cabinetry) sound of that 1403. It meant we had results to see! Those of us who moved beyond FORTRAN (the preferred language on the big 709) found the 1401 computer a delight to program, with a memory structure of variable-length words with a "word mark" bit to distinguish the end of a string of characters...an architecture I'd love to see revived.

But, the 1403 was the workhorse of the business, and its' star performer. When results of huge warfare simulation models, or Linear Programming model forecasts of macroeconomic possibilities, often with foot-high stacks of large, wide pages emerged from the back of the 1403...faster than one could read them...everyone looked for the "macro trends" of big areas of ink (or barren spans of white), they gave insight into the likely success or failure of the most recent changes in the models...and, occasionally presaged teentsy bugs that had created hugely errant results.

Given the technology of the day (the laser was yet to be invented) all these technologies in the emergent era of modern computers were marvels, and the IBM 1403 was the most effective tool of them all. Without that ability to produce massive reams of output for later analysis by mathematicians and programmers, and executives, and analysts, we'd've never made the subsequent leaps that have led to the cellphones we have today.

ANECDOTE: True Side-Story about the masses of blinking lights on the 709. We were hard by the Pentagon, and contractors used our "service bureau" at C-E-I-R for doing warfare modelling. Most programmers cleverly used control over some of the 709's console lights to indicate progress, or other information. At $800/hour (in the 1960's) it was important to know of the results were likely to be good or bad, so we could quickly terminate the latter to save money. One fellow was building naval warfare simulation models, considering different weapons and tactics to maximize the achievement of battle outcomes, and he used one bank of lights to indicate which kinds of targets were being destroyed in the simulated battle. One day, I'm watching the lights flickering at a decent rate, when the programmer in charge of building and testing the model was watching those lights blinking, and suddenly, leapt out of his chair, reaching for the "kill" button, exclaiming, at the top of his lungs, "The Damned Thing's Attacking CARGO Ships!!!", as he pressed the button to reset the computer! No 1403 output from THAT job. :-)

Comment Android vs. Windows/Google vs. Microsoft (Score 1) 138

If Google ever decides to implement the Windows-equivalent model for third-party applications (i.e., more than WINE) and "HAL", it will...for the first time since Windows v1...establish that there is a serious competitor to Windows. We have needed a competitor to Microsoft's dominant OS for a long, long time, if for no other reason than to keep them "honest" (as contrast with, say, the "Free Windows 10" gag that basically thrust all "Beta Testing" onto unsuspecting geeks, which led to the arrogance they exhibit with "we'll decide for you when you should update your system!") And, the arrogance they exhibit with egregious changes in User "Agreements" over the past two years, turning customers into serfs.

But, for both of these oversized behemoths, you must remember this: If you're not PAYING for the product, you ARE the product being sold. Windows AND Android users are ripe for a revolution against a high-handed, self-interested purveyors of the sole remaining products without competitors, because their respective GUIs are so ubiquitous.

Comment Re:Safety issues? (Score 1) 340

You clearly do not understand the rigor, and attenten to detail, demanded of pilots on EVERY approach. There are specific instrument indications every pilot is expected to meet at each phase (or marker) of the approach. Any commercial pilot who arrives over the "rabbit" (the lights at the approach end of the runway) with excess airspeed of more than about 25 knots would be sent off to remedial training, unless he had a specific emergency condition requiring the excess speed.

Comment Simulator...interface is garbage (Score 1) 340

You're obviously not a pilot...and simulators are very, very sophisticated in the past 30 years. I flew the F-5 simulator once. The F-5 has the odd side-effect that when you first release the brakes, the "nose" bounces up an down slightly for a few seconds. Even THAT detail was clearly reproduced in the version I "flew."

Comment Every Pilot with More than 20 hours of... (Score 1) 340

...logged flight time has seen these ideas crop up time, after time, after time. The radical change in pilot skills required, the creation of entire new solutions to low-visibility landing navigation signals, and the fact that it only applies to commercial airports (small airstrips take less space than the circle (unless you're willing to accept wing bank angles over 30 degrees during the most critical phase of flight) mean mostly only major destination passenger-service airports would be appropriate. Finally, every runway has two "approach plates" (pilot instructions on how to fly the approach to landing over all potential obstacles), one for each end. Pilots practice with each to ensure they know the ropes. How many "approach plates would be needed with a circular runway? Perhaps 36? And, many of those would be prohibited because they would require approaching the airport at altitudes lower than the tops of existing high-rise buildings!

This is an example of "thinking in the small." This designer is like a politician: Solve one problem by creating 30 more that "weren't anticipated."

Idea rating: DOA.

Comment There are great ways to achieve this... (Score 1) 347

...but they'll never see the light of day on /. Too many smart-ass wannabees flinging their feces at others...and likely to "not want to be bothered" with pre-coding design, or meaningful comments, or a "design document" prior to writing code against which the final result can be compared...and frequently updated.

Having been a programmer since 1961, I have developed lots of skills in teaching others. Having a trusted mentor is vital...someone with whom one can have a discussion, in-the-moment, about how to make decisions like "top-down" vs. "bottom-up." About leaving a trail of explanations "why" both in the code, and in all supporting documents. Good basic foundation in the principles of programming, irrespective of language, like Bohm-Jacopini...and it's variants. Practicing how to visualize a nascent program in execution, at multiple levels of granularity. All are essential...and I've probably missed a few.

Slashdot Top Deals

Torque is cheap.