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Comment Re:Fortran (Score 1) 630

I'm not quite old enough to have used FORTRAN.

What does age have to do with anything? I took a computational linear algebra course in the late '90s that used FORTRAN nearly exclusively.

That said, I started out, like most kids in the '80s, with BASIC and assembly language (6809 and 6502, in my case). I started college early enough that the introductory computer-science courses were still in Pascal, but pretty much every course that needed to do real work used anything but Pascal...lots of C, with a systems-programming course splitting time between 8086 assembly and VAX assembly and a database course that introduced us to SQL (of course).

The computational linear algebra course mentioned above was a math course specifically for computer-science majors; other engineering students took a different linear-algebra course.

Comment Re:It's not his arrest that is a priority (Score 1, Troll) 369

Making an example out of Assange won't help anything though, there will just be someone else stepping up. Assange is not the problem, you are.

There's an old proverb: "When everyone you meet is an asshole, it means that you're not beating up all the assholes fast enough and if only you can speed it up, everyone else will eventually become convinced that you must be one of the good guys."

I know it doesn't sound eloquent, though.

Comment Re:Reminds me of the Pico Brewer (Score 2) 359

I kind of liked home brewing. But home bottle sterilizing was a fucking bore.

That's why I started kegging after a couple or three years. Sanitizing the bottles wasn't too bad (a trip through the dishwasher would suffice, either with heated drying or (if available) the sanitizing option enabled), but it's much easier and faster to fill one keg than 50+ bottles. You can also dry-hop in a keg.

Comment Re:Seriously? (Score 4, Informative) 359

why would someone buy a $400 machine that requires you to buy prepackaged produce to be squeezed out of it...?

Consider this quote from TFA: "Tech blogs have dubbed it a 'Keurig for juice.'" Then consider how Keurig machines and the coffee pods they use have sold over the past few years. Nobody ever went broke overestimating people's laziness.

Comment Re:hmmm, yes (Score 1) 218

I heard that some people were installing patches from some dude named "Microsoft" and that company got caught red-handed, writing and distributing malware. (They wrote Windows to work directly contrary to the interests of the user. For example, they went to extra trouble to make it not be installable on modern hardware.)

Installing unaudited software written by people you don't know may sound crazy, but the vast majority of users routinely do something far worse: they install software written by people they do know, where they know that the author is the user's adversary.

Comment Re: Texas Instruments.. (Score 1) 857

the only way to choose in assembly was to use PEEK, POKE, and CALL from within TI BASIC

Did TI BASIC even have PEEK and POKE? Maybe it did and I just never knew what to do with them due to a lack of available documentation, but as I recall, those commands weren't in the console. They might've been in Extended BASIC, but I didn't have that cartridge back in the day. I have one now, as well as a bunch of other things (such as a PEB) that I didn't have back then, but a lack of space has kept it packed away the past few years.

Comment Re:TI-99/4A (Score 1) 857

Started with one that my parents had picked up cheapish ($150?) as the prices were starting to come down. Peripherals were still expensive as hell, though, and the console by itself didn't support much real work without them. Combine that with TI exiting the computer business a few months later and you can probably see where this is going: two years later, we ended up getting an Apple IIe (this time, with a couple of floppy drives, a monochrome monitor, and a printer), which got me through high school and a fair bit of college.

Comment This industry is trying hard to flip me (Score 1) 52

So.. in the past I have advocated in favor of "smart TVs" because even if you don't use the features, they're basically "free" (as in beer). Some processing power is already going to be there anyway, and it's not like the chips are expensive. The price of Raspberry Pi should give you a good idea of the most it could possibly cost, and even that is a pretty pessimistic estimate.

But that position was based on the assumption that "utterly and completely worthless to me" was the lower bound of what the user would get out of it.

If the software is going to be hostile, such that the value of a smart TV over a dumb TV might actually be negative, then I have to retract my thumbs-up.

Comment Re:Self-Driving? Yes. Shared? No. (Score 1) 168

I just don't see self-driving long term tipping the scale in favor of renting more than it is today.

I think it comes down to this: Robot drivers are a nice feature for owned cars, but I don't think it expands the attractiveness of ownership as much as it expands the attractiveness of sharing.

Robots don't make ownership more attractive to many people who would otherwise not have bought a car. How many people are thinking, "I'd buy a car if they drove themselves, but they don't, so I'm going to get around some other way"? Maybe some people, but I don't think many. Most people who own cars are willing to drive them; they might prefer to read a novel on that desert roadtrip, but having-to-drive isn't a deal-killer. So your new customers are people who are willing, but unable. Is that a lot?

But how many people are thinking "I'd take a robot taxi, but it doesn't exist yet, so I'm going to get around some other way"? More, I think. If you can take the driver out of the comparison, the two cases of car rental and a taxi hire, just sort of blend together into unified case. I think that new thing can serve situations where people currently settle for solutions where they aren't really happy, turning more Nos into Yesses. And I also think those situations where people aren't happy, aren't very extreme; if the shared car scenario where just a little better, it would make a big difference. I know that Uber/Lyft tipped a lot of people who were not taking taxis all the time.

Comment Re:Simple math... (Score 1) 339

Ok, excellent example.

You're pretty smart, right? So tell me: are you confident that you are getting the best-possible deal on insurance? Do you understand all the ways the companies compete (and don't) and exactly how high you should have your deductible be, to get the "best" premiums vs risk mitigation? Have you actually read your whole policy, and researched every term that you thought might have a technical meaning other than its superficial meaning?

And are you tuning it every year, as the insured object depreciates?

Maybe you've got this nailed, but you'd be exceptional. Getting some aspect of this sub-optimally, wouldn't signify to me that you're stupid. You might be lazy, you might have enough income that you don't give a fuck about an extra $20/year, etc.

Now if someone else points at a guy who has a $100 deductible on his car, and says "we're idiots," you're gonna say something like, "Hey, I don't have all my shit perfectly together, but that fuckwit isn't representative of us all!" and that's really all I meant to say about gambling. If you had to gamble, you'd probably get it about as right as you get your insurance.

And you probably get your bullshit-detecting about as well, very roughly. That you miss sometimes, doesn't mean you're an idiot. We're not idiots; we're just in zero-sum competitions with people who are experts in their fields.

The Internet

Tennessee Could Give Taxpayers America's Fastest Internet For Free, But It Gave Comcast and AT&T $45 Million Instead (vice.com) 341

Chattanooga, Tennessee is home to some of the fastest internet speeds in the United States, offering city dwellers Gbps and 10 Gpbs connections. Instead of voting to expand those connections to the rural areas surrounding the city, which have dial up, satellite, or no internet whatsoever, Tennessee's legislature voted to give Comcast and AT&T a $45 million taxpayer handout. Motherboard reports: The situation is slightly convoluted and thoroughly infuriating. EPB -- a power and communications company owned by the Chattanooga government -- offers 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, and 10 Gpbs internet connections. A Tennessee law that was lobbied for by the telecom industry makes it illegal for EPB to expand out into surrounding areas, which are unserved or underserved by current broadband providers. For the last several years, EPB has been fighting to repeal that state law, and even petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to try to get the law overturned. This year, the Tennessee state legislature was finally considering a bill that would have let EPB expand its coverage (without providing it any special tax breaks or grants; EPB is profitable and doesn't rely on taxpayer money). Rather than pass that bill, Tennessee has just passed the "Broadband Accessibility Act of 2017," which gives private telecom companies -- in this case, probably AT&T and Comcast -- $45 million of taxpayer money over the next three years to build internet infrastructure to rural areas.

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