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Comment Re:It's not a popularity contest (Score 2) 158

if I want something to run on most Linux distributions, as well as the BSDs with minor modifications, C is the obvious choice

Well, C++ could make that same claim, as well as many other languages. In fact, some are arguably much *better* at cross-platform functionality.

I think where C shines is that it's sort of a "common denominator" language. Just about every language (C++ included) can make use of a C library, or with minimal effort can create hooks into it, like with C#, Objective-C, Lua, or dozens of other languages that rely on low-level code for lots of their functionality. It's also a reasonably simple language, rather easy to wrap your head around (if written well), and is straightforward to learn, with power enough to get close to the metal when needed. So, if you write some code in C, just about anyone else can use it, even if they have to write a bit of "glue" first.

That makes it a hell of a pragmatic choice for many projects, even considering C's more problematic aspects.

Comment Re:Don't Talk Back! (Score 3, Insightful) 90

"Pre-releases of the Yakkety Yak are not encouraged for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. They are, however, recommended for Ubuntu flavor developers and those who want to help in testing, reporting and fixing bugs as we work towards getting this bos grunniens ready. Beta 1 includes a number of software updates that are ready for wider testing. These images are still under development, so you should expect some bugs," says Set Hallstrom, Ubuntu Studio project lead. He adds: "While these Beta 1 images have been tested and work, except as noted in the release notes, Ubuntu developers are continuing to improve the Yakkety Yak. In particular, once newer daily images are available, system installation bugs identified in the Beta 1 installer should be verified against the current daily image before being reported in Launchpad. Using an obsolete image to re-report bugs that have already been fixed wastes your time and the time of developers who are busy trying to make 16.10 the best Ubuntu release yet. Always ensure your system is up to date before reporting bugs."

So... there may be some bugs then? I was a little unclear on that point.

Anyhow, it's great that the article talks about the silly name of the release, the song it's named after, and about how buggy it is, rather than talking about what sort of new features come with the latest and greatest bugs. I mean, no one gives a crap about boring things like that, right? Or did I miss a link somewhere?

Comment Re:We need this (Score 3, Insightful) 239

I'll agree with your sentiment, if not your particular example. My old flip-phone from 10 years ago lasted about a week on a single charge. Obviously, though, that's because it was doing jack-crap processing-wise compared to the mini-supercomputers we now all have in our pockets, not due to a lack of progress in battery tech. I think many tech-types have just been spoiled by Moore's Law, not realizing how abnormal it is for technology to improve on an exponential scale.

Anyhow, I'm always glad to see more research into this field. A lot of our current tech is tethered to battery life, and batteries are, I think, going to be more and more important as we transition more toward renewable energy for much of our everyday power needs.

Comment Re:Another late submission/question (Score 1) 40

I think I've previously called this "perceptual randomness".

Generally, when you talk about randomness for human consumption, perceptual randomness is far preferable to true randomness. For instance, when creating an audio engine for an upcoming videogame, I made sure the code that chose "random" samples among a group of sample variations always made sure not to choose the same sample twice in a row by keeping a record of the last sample of that group played, and excluding it from the next playback. To humans, any repetition at all tends sounds out of place in a soundscape, as our brains are exceptionally good at recognizing the patterns inherent in any aural repetition.

I did the same thing with music playlists with the "shuffle" function, making sure it didn't accidentally play the last song and the identical first song in the next set. Probably one better would be to do something like perform a weighted distribution based on the song's last position, discouraging them from re-appearing too closely together, perhaps with a hard limit of x% of the total songlist length. However, given that each region had a fairly small playlist, that would have been overkill for our purposes. It would probably be worthwhile in a standalone music player though.

I always wondered if anyone else paid attention to stuff like this other than me.

Comment "Technologically impossible?" (Score 0) 219

I distrust any blanket assertion that such things are "technologically impossible." I'd agree to "highly improbable", given the ridiculous frequency with which consumers' or citizens' private data is regularly leaked, by corporations and government agencies alike. And given the stupidly insecure and inaccurate electronic voting machines we've seen before, I'd say it's probably "impossible" for some companies to create a secure system.

But properly working, secure authentication and crypto is a thing. It's damned hard to get right, but it's not impossible. At some point, we'll probably figure out how create a system that uses authenticated electronic ledgers to prevent fraudulent tampering (blockchains, etc) while still preserving anonymity. Still, until we figure out how to put such a system in place and make sure it's reasonably secure, paper ballots are at least a bit harder to manipulate on a mass scale, although still not impossible.

Comment Re:How to advocate for desktop dev in a phone worl (Score 1) 512

Tablets and phones are consumption devices, not creation devices. They are a hideously bad match for trying to do any sort of serious development work, or even your bog standard PowerPoint deck. A Surface is about as tablet-y as you can get while still being able to do reasonable work, but a Surface is still a real computer under the hood. Anyone who works with touch-only systems could probably give you a long list of design decisions that slow them down when trying to do anything serious.

No one's talking about developers or other power users here, of course. They'll need a true computer with a more traditional desktop and powerful OS. But if all you need is web apps like Google Docs, or maybe even MS Office apps, and you attach a keyboard, what exactly prevents you from getting actual work done on a tablet? Or what if your work involves reading books or reports, research, communication, or other "consumption-friendly" tasks for large portions of the day?

I've noticed many tech people have a somewhat narrow view on what "work" can be done with a computer. It generally equates to "stuff I do with a computer." Note that I completely agree with you that tablets and phones ARE more suited for consumption than production, but as these devices and operating systems get more powerful, and as web-based work becomes more feasible by the day, the lines are beginning to blur a bit.

Comment Re:Not Just SEO... (Score 1) 105

It would be entirely unfair - and misleading - to draw connections between the outsourcing of customer support services to third-world locations and then the rise in boiler-room scams from those locations.

I'm not entirely sure about that, but there's blame to go around. There have been plenty of investigations that have shown that companies occasionally provide these call centers with a shocking amount of personal information about their customers. These sorts of scam operations are probably more likely to occur from places outside of US jurisdiction, where they'll be a bit safer from prosecution, since richer US citizens are obviously a prime target. There have been other cases, though, where fraudulent operations are actually outsourced to foreign call centers, in which case you can blame the one providing those call centers with false information and instructions.

I think perhaps the rise of call centers in foreign countries has simply given such foreign scammers more legitimately. No one blinks to hear heavily accented callers these days, whereas a few decades ago, you'd be suspicious of such a call that might not be coming from the US.

Comment Re:How to advocate for desktop dev in a phone worl (Score 2) 512

So give them a pencil and a pad of paper, right? Simpler is not always better. Even for someone who hunts and pecks, a keyboard with properly designed local software is a lot more productive for most people than laggy, underpowered touchscreen devices coupled with badly designed SaaS interfaces.

Not at all. "The simplest tool fit for the job." If that's a desktop, fine. But not all work is that complex, or requires what are literally the equivalent of yesteryear's supercomputers sitting on a desk. Maybe some people need a laptop, since they're on the go. Or maybe even just a tablet with detachable keyboard, if all they really need is a browser to run some lightweight web apps.

My point is that we as techies really shouldn't be so attached to a particular form factor that not everyone requires. Is KDE dying? Yeah, I guess, but only because the desktop itself is... if not dying, then shrinking a bit in significance. It's becoming just one of many viable form factors or computing paradigms. Sure, we developers will always need a desktop environment because of what we do, but the world at large is not like us.

Comment Re:How to advocate for desktop dev in a phone worl (Score 4, Insightful) 512

A lot of tech people tend to forget that for most people, a computer is not an end unto itself. It's just another tool for getting their real work done. Why "advocate" a desktop if people can get their work done on a tablet or phone? A desktop system has a lot of complexity that, for most people, probably tends to get in the way of actually getting their work done as much as it helps them. I say, just use the simplest tool fit for the job, nothing more.

People laugh at me for using Midnight Commander for file operations on my various computers...but it's way faster than navigating a GUI or the command line if you know what you're doing!

I'd argue that very few people's productivity is measured in how efficient their file operations are. It's sort of like believing you're going to be vastly more efficient as a programmer if you memorize a bunch of keyboard shortcuts or type 60wpm instead of 30. Unlike the movies, programming isn't about how fast you type.

If it works for you, fantastic. But don't kid yourself... you use it because it's what you know and you're comfortable with it. People hate change, because change forces cognitive dissonance, meaning you have to focus more on the task rather than the work you're trying to get done until the new system is committed to muscle memory. That means many people hate change even if it's change for the better, let alone if it's just change for change's sake.

Comment Re:Stealth (Score 1) 117

I didn't see anywhere in the article that these were "autonomous fighters", just that they were "drones", or "unmanned fighter jets". My assumption is that human controllers will still very much be in control of these things at some tactical level. You're still going to need to regularly train whoever controls, commands, and maintains these things.

I'd agree that they'd need to fly less frequently, but they'd probably still need to regularly perform in training missions, just like every other military asset currently in existence.

Comment Re:Reeks of desperation (Score 1) 256

Edge has extensions now.

It's still not a usable browser. Even Paul Thurrott can't endorse it yet. He talked recently about its many small frustrations, about how basic copy and paste features don't work, or how when you scale text up on a single page, ALL other tabs get scaled as well. Stupid, annoying stuff like that creates a terrible user experience.

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