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Comment Will it be entertaining? (Score 4, Interesting) 51

I think in the early days, these races might be entertaining.

I can imagine that eventually some kind of optimum strategy may evolve and all the teams use it, and then the cars will all do the same thing and the race will be boring. But in the early days, with people trying different strategies, stuff might happen that is interesting to watch.

I remember back at my first job, we found some kind of game where you wrote a program to control a robot tank in the game, and the whole game was to have matches between people's programs. The programming language was simple and there were APIs for things like "throw out a radar ping", "turn tank", "rotate turret", "fire gun", "check to see if tank is damaged", etc. There were many different strategies available: you could write a tank that never checked if it was being damaged, but just drove around crazily all the time to be hard to lock onto; you could write a tank that, when it got a ping, would try to lock onto that tank and follow it and keep shooting it until it was dead; you could try to write a balanced tank that would check if it was damaged and evade if so, try to figure out where other tanks were and just send shots in that general direction, etc. We had great fun with it for a while, and then one of the developers (not me, sadly) wrote a tank program that was dramatically more effective than all the others. The fun died away when it became "watch Rich's tank destroy your tank and all the others".

The question is whether Rich's program was actually optimum in some sense (did the best possible according to the simple simulation rules) or whether we could have beaten it if we had been more clever. I'm not sure. I wish I had copies of the source code to all the bots from back then, now that I have a lot more experience in software development and I might get more out of the game.

This was years ago and I couldn't tell you what game it was exactly, but there are plenty of programming games around.

Comment pokey at the jewelry store (Score 2) 65

pokey at the jewelry store

There. It's my favorite Pokey strip. It's also the only Pokey strip I like. I don't really get the love for Pokey... I don't get the love for Zippy the Pinhead either.

I really do like this one. The increasing aburdity of the situation unfolds with IMHO perfect comic timing.

Comment Wasting time on fiddly shit (rant) (Score 0) 130

One should be close to the customers and users to make useful office software. If most of your effort is fiddling with low-level programming and UI issues, then you are doing something wrong and wasting labor.

I used to crank out custom internal software quite quickly in the pre-web days: blam blam blam! Now it takes a 10 fucking hours to get shit like scrollbars to work right in JS libraries with lots of screwy code and dealing with browser differences. Something is fucked about the Web Stack; we are doing it wrong; billions are wasted. We are chasing fads instead of productivity. I want to make useful tools in short time, not make fucking skirts; you goddam fashion monkeys buy into this shit!

I didn't have to micromanage UI crap back then. It may be great job security, but a nuke to productivity. One of these days a standard or tool will get network UI's right and jillions of programmers will be unemployed or serving fries. The UI shit-bubble will pop. I will learn it early and replace many you goddam fashion monkeys because I'll be able to crank out and quickly fix and adjust apps again! There is a market for eye-candy, but it's not everywhere. Internal apps don't need eye-candy and the org shouldn't be fashion-taxed to get normal apps.

Comment Re:Good idea for now (Score 2) 54

Once the science objectives are completed, they should attempt this maneuver.

They should attempt an engine burn near the end to try to understand what went wrong to prevent it on another mission. I'm sure they'll orbit and observe until too many instruments or stabilizers fail, but near the edge of usefulness they should probably do engine burn tests.

Comment Good ol' days (Score 0) 117

I used to use Pascal a lot back in my college days, mostly on mini-computers. Other than a brief burst of sales in Turbo Pascal (PC) and to a lessor extent Delphi, Pascal usage quickly shrank. I'm not quite sure why, it was a fairly decent compiler-based language.

It needed more string-oriented operations, perhaps. I like the way the type name (declaration) comes after the variable, instead of before like the C-family of languages. I prefer it after. It also allowed nesting of functions.

Comment Fad Score-Card [Re:Finally] (Score 1) 356

And yes, some ideas are totally bad

I'm getting up there in years and witnessed lots of IT fads. The average seems to be that only 1 out of 10 such fads has significant staying power: it becomes mainstream and common.

3 out of 10 find narrow niches where they do fairly well, and 6 out of 10 pretty much die, often because they were no good or too similar to something already around.

Comment Re:I have to agree (Score 1) 356

What I meant is that the first iPhone changed the industry. It changed smart-phone conventions and expectations for consumers and users.

But it wasn't based on some specific new technology. For example, touch-screens had already been around, phone-browsers had already been around, and the kind of applications on it already existed in other smart-phones and/or personal devices in various forms.

As far as whether Apple has added specific technical innovations that improved the iPhone, they probably have, but so far they are not industry changers, at least in a sudden sense. They may keep Apple financially successful and add incremental improvements to their products, but that's kind of a different category than "game changers".

Comment Re:Well, "tech" is dead in the West (Score 1) 118

Anyone who chooses a STEM career path in the Western world needs to examine his or her priorities.

The problem is that the alternatives are also risky. First-world workers in general are taking it in the nuts due to offshoring, outsourcing, and automation.

I would note that plumbing, HVAC, and household appliance repair seems a relatively good option right now, being harder to offshore or automate.

But you never know, maybe remote-controlled repair bots controlled by $2/hr workers in Timbuktu will take over much of that, although some suspect that a sense of small, touch, dexterity, etc. is needed to do it right. Still, it could replace some repair tasks.

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