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Comment Automatic Conversion (Score 1, Insightful) 372

It's been a while since I've touched COBOL, but it should be possible to develop a program that parses COBOL and outputs the equivalent in a modern language, even preserving the comments.

Since financial institutions seem to be completely unaware that programmers can quickly adapt to different languages, it would seem like an automatic conversion program could be quite profitable.

Comment Re:Incorrect (Score 3, Informative) 478

With climate change, there's more energy in the atmosphere than before, so pulling a tiny amount out with wind turbines will help, not hurt. That said, the sort of wind power being installed now can't be taking more than a fraction of a rounding error of energy out of the atmosphere so it's only theoretical.

Comment Re:Still Don't Get It (Score 5, Informative) 65

is Device limited to mobile phone & purchasing apps? Because we sure as hell have 'Devices' in the house older than 2013 that came with those titles for free. On desktops & laptops. That's why OP's original question is still valid.

Do you mean the mobile apps are now finally free too? (know yer history son).

There's a few different things going on here with regards to the Mac versions.

Versions of iWork prior to 2011 were traditional boxed commercial products - as in, you went to the store and bought a disc. The Mac App Store had been introduced in 2010 and in 2011 Apple released iWork '09, the then most recent version, on the Mac App Store as three separate apps at $19.99 a piece (which meant that the three together were cheaper than the $79 they had been charging for the iWork DVD-ROM).

In October 2013 they released new versions of all three, now just called "iWork" with no particular year or version designation, and now exclusively on the Mac App Store. They also made this version a free upgrade for iWork '09 users both to reward existing owners but also because this allowed them to transition to using the Mac App Store as their central software update platform. At this time, however, they were still three $19.99 applications.

The way the free upgrade worked was that the Mac App Store looked to see if you had iWork '09 installed and if so it would install the newer iWork (leaving the old one intact) and associate your Apple ID account in the Mac App Store as having owned the apps. At the time there was a trick people discovered - by accident or design the Mac App Store was incapable of determining whether or not your copy of iWork '09 was the full version or the 30-day trial, which Apple had rescinded from their website but which was still floating around. If you installed iWork '09's trial and rebooted, the Mac App Store would start installing the new version of iWork and your account would now own the latest iWork even though you had not purchased iWork '09. In a statement, Apple acknowledged that this was possible but that they thought the convenience of upgrading and Mac App Store association was worth the potential loss in sales they might suffer as a result.

In October 2014 Apple announced that the three iWork apps would be free with new hardware purchases. Prior to this point you had to either qualify for the free iWork '09 upgrade or purchase the apps, and anyone who didn't do the trick above would still need to buy the apps.

What's changed today is that now the three iWork apps are outright free to everyone, not just people who bought a Mac after 2014 or were willing to perform the iWork '09 trial trick. If you had them on devices prior to 2013 for "free" then either you had taken advantage of some promotion or some bundling, or you may have gotten the upgrade as a result of the 2013 rollout.

The iOS versions of iWork followed a similar trajectory, though skipping the part about being on DVD prior to 2013 and any upgrade tricks - they were released as three $9.99 apps, free with hardware purchases past 2014, and now just free to anyone.

Comment Aquarius. (Score 1) 857

Let me start by saying that by the time it came out, the Age of Aquarius had already passed. Even the vendor (Mattel) internally called it "the computer of the 70s" even though it came out in 1982.

- Rubber chiclet keys.
- Space was where Left Shift should be. Shift was where CapsLock goes now. Ctl was where Tab should be. There was no Tab, and no spacebar. I suppose they did this to save a row on the keyboard.
- An absolutely execrable thermal printer that printed only to half-width paper, and in pale blue. Printouts would fade to invisibility in a matter of months, and the paper was nearly impossible to get.
- The game controllers were modeled on the Intellivision, only somehow even worse.
- Other than commercial game cartridges and a spreadsheet cartridge, any software had to be typed in from books and saved to cassette. Because nobody around me had one, I could not trade tapes with anyone.

It did have a couple things going for it, in my view at the time:
+ 4K of RAM was actually reasonable, and I had the 16K expansion. It also had a cartridge slot doubler so I could use both the RAM expansion and a program cartridge at the same time.
+ It had sound that was equivalent to (and may have actually been) an AY-3-8910. Three channels of tone, plus one of noise. It was possible to do some decent music on it, and the games also had decent music and sound effects.
+ It was mine, and nobody told me what I could or could not do with it. Of course, since it had no means to communicate with other computers, it was pretty irrelevant to anyone else what I did with it.

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In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle