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Comment Re:Sorry but (Score 2) 89

Why wouldn't Java be something a forward thinking CTO would be using? Java's been the intro CS language for a large number of schools for a few decades and the fact it's a "legacy" language means there's a huge developer pool and well tested tooling available. It's also not tied to the Windows platform so it's largely free from platform lock-in.

As for Apache's relevance...the Hadoop platform is huge and not going away any time soon. Lucene is the basis for two of the most popular enterprise search systems, one of which (Solr) is also an Apache project and written in Java.

Comment Fetch my fainting couch (Score 2) 310

Are declines in PC sales in any way surprising? Frost the past decade and a half a larger and larger portion of PC sales have been laptops. Schools from junior high through college practically (or actually) demand them. The proliferation of WiFi means just about anywhere with a roof is going to offer some internet connectivity. Besides ubiquitous internet access laptops have gotten way more consumer friendly by getting ever cheaper and lighter. For just about everyone a laptop is the form factor to buy.

For most of the past 15-16 years laptops were getting faster CPUs or way better GPUs every two years or so. Battery life didn't improve much but at least the machines got more powerful. The past 5-6 years though the landscape has changed. Fewer laptops ship with discrete GPUs as Intel's have increased in capability. Even low end laptops have SSDs and 8+ gigabytes of RAM. The usable lifespan of laptops has increased significantly. Even a change from an average of two to three years means fewer sales for manufacturers. There's a non-trivial portion of the laptop market that's seeing a replacement cycle of over three years.

In addition the sort of things people needed a laptop for ten years ago can be as effectively or more effectively done on a phone or tablet. Android and iOS tablets beat the shit out of Windows tablets and 2-in-1s because hey aren't saddled with a heavyweight OS that honestly is not designed to turn on and go and then back off just as easily.

Billions of smartphones and many millions of tablets have definitely sucked the oxygen out of the room for traditional PCs. With PCs not "needing" more regular upgrades is choking the PC industry. The PC market is saturated and is not likely to grow again. Emerging markets are not a savior because they don't have the same infrastructure as developed markets. They aren't going through a dial-up landline internet connected to a beige box phase. They're going right to smartphones, tablets, and other highly mobile devices that fit better in their infrastructure.

Comment Re: VR will help --- maybe (Score 1) 310

Unfortunately comes with a hardware dongle that's not really advertised. It's a room with enough free space to not break break a limb or get a concussion flailing about in a physical environment that doesn't match the one being presented to your eyes and ears. Kids and pets are also incompatible accessories.

If VR ever gets a non-trivial adoption the Wii-mote and Kinect injuries of yesteryear will seem quaint. We'll look back on the halcyon days before our TBIs from running into furniture or ducking below a virtual missile into the corner of the desk.

Maybe VR injuries will finally get more developers to support button remapping or other accessibility features.

Comment Re: So Slashdot is a blatant propaganda peddler no (Score 2) 496

Forcing labor intensive manufacturing to on-shore won't magically create a domestic blue collar workforce.

Say a company has a widget that costs a dollar to be manufactured in China and shipped to the US. That same widget if manufactured in the US today costs two dollars.

Adding tariffs such that the Chinese price would equal or exceed the domestic manufacturing cost would in theory incentivize domestic production. What it would do in reality is incentivize investments in automation to reduce the domestic production cost to any point below the two dollar mark. Removing the cheap option will just make companies move to the next cheapest option not just jump to the most expensive option.

Labor intensive low-skill production happens in places where the labor cost is low. There's no incentive in having human beings doing the work unless they are cheaper than machines.

Trying to force labor intensive manufacturing to return to developed first world countries will just hasten the adoption of automation. This will mean output and profit margins won't change for manufacturers and the number of manufacturing jobs will remain constant or decrease. Robots have less management overhead than humans and can be retrained for new positions much faster.

Comment Re:Q n A (Score 0, Redundant) 141

Unfortunately quoting the top played Steam games for the day does not really say what you think/want it to say. Of those top seven games, four share the same game engine (CS:GO, DoTA2, Gary's Mod, and TF2) and honestly can be looked at as mods for HL2. So your "Top 10" list is really a "Top 7" list. Of those seven games only a little better than half are available for Linux.

The second problem with those numbers is availability for Linux does not give any information about the number of those players running Linux. If you apply the Linux stats from the Hardware/Software survey you've got Linux at 0.84% of the Steam installed base. A full quarter of the Mac installed base.

You also can't simply point to Steam's stats and suggest Linux games are plentiful. The most obvious omission for those stats are competing platforms/publishers like EA and Blizzard. Since there's effectively zero Linux support for Origin or Battle.net using Steam's figures is a bad extrapolation of the games market. You're trying to pretend that Steam == the game market and the games the GP mentioned aren't by some metric "top" games.

I'd love Linux to get better support from game developers/publishers. I also really appreciate the fact Linux gaming today is far better than it has ever been in the past, including during Loki Software's heyday. It's a bit ridiculous though to point out obviously wrong or grossly misleading figures and make proclamations that Linux gaming is awesome and all the top games are available.

Comment Re:Declaring code is docs, but Android screwed Sun (Score 2) 405

That all being said, I hold an unpopular opinion. What Google did should be techinically legal, and it should obviously be possible to develop compatible implementations of operating systems and other software infrastructures. However, Googleâ(TM)s choice to usurp the Java empire totally fucked over Sun. Android started at a time when Sun was still Sun. They were making revenue from Java, and if that revenue stream had continued, the may have been able to avoid going under. Instead, Android totally ripped the rug out from under that part of Sun, and Sun had to liquidate and get sold to to the assholes at Oracle.

So while technically, within the law, Google doesnâ(TM)t owe a penny to Oracle (in my opinion), what Google did was morally wrong, and there were consequences (surely anticipated by Google to some degree or other) that lead to Sunâ(TM)s demise.

Put the brakes on that line of thought right there. Google tried to work with Sun in the beginning but could not come to terms. Whether Google wanted the Moon from Sun is immaterial, Sun had the opportunity to get the branded Java platform running on Android. My guess is Sun wanted Google to mate themselves to either J2ME or Swing at the UI layer and Google didn't like either of those options.

So at Android's inception we have Sun setting the stage for Sun getting fucked over. In addition Google used the Apache Harmony project because Sun at the time did not offer an Open Source implementation of the entirely of the Java Class Library.

If Google was "morally" wrong to use Apache Harmony then Apache themselves was "morally" wrong for writing it in the first place. Likewise Red Hat's IcedTea project is morally wrong as is GNU Classpath. I really don't want to have to defend the actions of Google but it is absurd to accuse them of being "morally" wrong in making a business decision for their platform.

Sun's worst enemy was often Sun. They had a specific vision for how they wanted Java to exist on mobile platforms and did not want to waver from it. Their vision was not compatible with what the market actually wanted. Google wanted to satisfy market demands, not Sun's vision for mobile devices.

Comment Re:"Habitable Zone" (Score 1) 267

Who are WE to determine that life has to be like US.

Your question comes up in one form or another every time this subject is discussed. It's not because it is insightful (despite the moderation) but because the questioner fails to think logically.

Firstly the question makes a logical leap by presupposing that it is life on Earth is a rare form in the universe. It suggests that forms of life completely alien in understanding exist throughout the universe and it is the Earth that is the odd ball by using carbon and water as the backbone of biological processes.

For the cosmic awesomeness that is our home planet and solar system, it's pretty average in a large number of ways. The Sun isn't super unique in many respects nor are the elements on which it and the Earth are composed. There's not a whole lot of Unobtanium or Raretonium to be found on Earth. We might be the only life in this part of the galaxy but that's likely not because the Earth and our solar system is especially unique on the galactic scale.

We'll miss extraterrestrial life because we were looking for ourselves the whole time.

The second major problem with the question is the scope is amazingly out of whack with the scope of the actual universe. Our galaxy alone has hundreds of billions of stars. If we could take a galactic census (say in just a 1kpc sphere) we would probably find millions of worlds with some form of life on them. Out of those millions your question presupposes that life forms unlike us would be the majority. Even if that was the case that still leaves a great many life forms that are enough like us for us to recognize as life forms.

Where your question fails in scope is not realizing that just a small chunk of the Milky Way has millions of stars and very likely millions of planets. Even if a majority host life forms wholly alien to us, there'll be enough Earth-like worlds for us to find life that is not wholly alien to us.

Comment Re:And yet, the Slashdot opinion... (Score 2) 185

I'm using Ubuntu on my laptops anymore for this reason. It's the one distro where I can be reasonably sure that sleep and WiFi will work on a laptop without me having to do a bunch of extra work.

I need to get stuff done on my computer, not troubleshoot it. It was a fun learning experience twenty years ago but today it is just a pain in my ass. If I barely have time for the things I want to do I definitely don't have time for things I don't need to do.

Comment Re:These "ads" you speak of, "shaping my life" (Score 1) 191

Advertisements aren't just animated GIFs in the sidebar of web pages. Damn near any site with "personalized" content in any form is prone to machinations of advertisers. Even /. filters content displayed on your main page depending on your settings.

More and more websites are filtering content automatically based on advertiser profiles they have built for every user. Even the searches you perform are tracked and used to tailor results to sites you have visited or searches you've performed in the past.

This becomes an issue in the long run because it's unclear how much information is hidden (by simple omission) from people based on these invisible profiles. There's a very strong potential for the tail to begin wagging the dog: what content websites, search engines, and social networks display can influence user behaviors.

It's not outside the realm of possibility or believability that Starbucks would pay Google or Waze cold hard cash to route directions past drive-thru Starbucks locations for any user with a Starbucks reward card. That route may cost you extra money or time as its purpose is to serve the customer (Starbucks) and not the product (you).

Comment Re:Stick a fork in it.... (Score 1) 542

Heck going back to NuBus there was astounding graphics capability on Macs. When the company rolled out the G3/G4/G5 processors- they were stepping all over Intel based machines in big ways. And you could get aftermarket GPUs which were the equals of their PC counterparts.

The graphics lead of the NuBus era Macs began to wane when PCs adopted the PCI bus and 2D accelerators became the norm. By the time the G3 was introduced Macs were using the same graphics chips as PCs. When the G5 was introduced Macs were stuck with "Mac versions" of GPUs that were often a generation behind what was available on PCs.

In terms of CPUs the PowerPCs were only "stepping all over" x86 parts for very brief periods of time in each generation and only for some values of "stepping all over". The beginning of each chip generation say the PowerPC chips with an advantage over x86s but by the middle of the generation they were on par to slightly behind to really behind by the end of the generation.

What has happened since the glory days? Well- they stopped focusing on computing. It appears to be an afterthought. It's iPods... iPhones.... iWatches. The Mac is essentially a PC architecture with an alternative operating system. Anyone who knows that buys a PC, unless they think that Mac OS has something really compelling.

The Mac is a PC with an alternative architecture but it was in your "glory days" as well. The main difference between Macs in your mythical glory days and PCs of the same era were the CPU/firmware and the OS. PCs became far more Mac-like between 1984-1995 than Macs became PC-like. PCs stopped chasing IBM and started chasing Apple.

Putting aside for the moment whether iPhones etc are "computing", the Mac has not only remained a major player in computing but Apple is pretty much the only PC manufacturer with positive growth over the past few years. Institutional purchases remain Windows-PC but every college campus and developer conference I have seen is festooned with Macs.

What you're seemingly unhappy about and what most hardware geeks posting don't seem to get, is that "computing" on the PC today is dominated by notebooks. The typical PC (from any manufacturer) is a notebook rather than an aluminum sided tower. Your water cooled behemoth under your desk is a rarity.

The Occulus Rift or any other VR headset is no more going to support the vast majority of Windows PCs than it is going to support Macs. No laptops currently support the Rift and it will be years before a GTX980 equivalent ends up in even a modest number of notebooks. Only a very small fraction of desktops (themselves a minority of the total PC installed base) can possibly support the Rift et al.

If in fact VR is the "next killer app" on the desktop- Apple appears to have not prepared for it at all.

The fact that VR necessitates a desktop makes this claim seem a bit silly.

Comment Bad article is bad, should feel bad (Score 1) 456

In the tradition of shitty "journalism" at the Verge the author is trying to convince others of something so they can be hailed as a technical prophet.

Microsoft has enough money that they can pour it into Windows Phone for a very long time and not bat an eye. The Windows Phone platform will only die if Microsoft loses interest, not because of poor market performance.

That being said this article is full of weapons grade stupid. It claims that last quarter 400m smartphones were sold yet only 1.1% were Windows Phone devices. That's a small percentage but works out to 4.4m phones. If the ASP (average sale price) is $200 that's almost a billion dollars in revenue for the quarter. While that's nothing compared to Apple's iPhone revenues it's not anywhere close to zero or any number less than zero.

Yet again someone trots out a "market share" number as if it is a meaningful comparison of anything. As has always been the case market share percentages don't need to be large in order for a company to be making money. Apple's "market share" of the overall PC market is likewise small compared to all PC manufacturers yet they make an enviable amount of money off Macs. They make a ridiculous amount of money off the iPhone despite Android "winning" with market share percentage.

You can compare revenue, profit on that revenue, and unit sales. Share percentages are virtually useless when trying to gauge the health of a competitor in a market. They're used by "journalists" that don't want to bother with math or real analysis.

Comment Re:Misses the point (Score 1) 214

Just like Math, the point is to get students to understand Logic and Reasoning skills.

No. Full stop. Programming does not teach logic and reasoning. It might use those skills but it certainly does not teach them. Nor does it teach mathematics, critical thinking, grammar, or anything else everyone seems to profess.

If you want children to learn reasoning, logic, and critical thinking they need to be taught those things specifically. People with a predilection for those things will find programming intuitive and those without will just be frustrated.

Programming also does not teach children about how computers work or about the theory of computing. It doesn't help them use computers in their daily lives nor will it help them much in the future.

This whole idea is just a modernization of "computers will make kids smarter" meme from the 90s. Schools unloaded millions stuffing computers in the back of classroom. Statistics were quoted saying students with computers did better in school. What was lost on people was students that did well in school had socio-economic situations and home environments that allowed or encouraged them to well in school. Having a computer was simply a hallmark of higher socio-economic status.

Today it's statistics claiming programmers make more money than other professions. The mean salary for programmers is not much better than other white collar professions. The outliers in places like the SF Bay Area skew the numbers significantly. The average programmer is not working at Facebook or Google, they are working at Initech.

Comment Re:It won't, and note microsoft is always involved (Score 1) 317

What's your point? I've replaced Word documents with Python + LaTeX. Excel can be automated, Engineers have had automated Excel for the last decade.

Bully on you for replacing Word with LaTeX, most people in most jobs are simply not going to be able to do that. They're going to need to stick Word documents in a CMS or on a file server for other people to use. Unless the whole organization moves over to LaTeX/Markdown/asciidoc or whatever easily-parsed-by-Python plain text you're out of luck. Your job is not representative of any significant fractions of jobs.

VBA is locked in and dying. AutoHotKey is mono-OS. Jupyter Notebooks are platform agnostic and can be centrally run. (Requiring no setup for the users part).

VBA is locked in...to the world's largest desktop computing platform. AutoHotKey (and many other applications of its kind) are "mono-OS"...running on the world's largest desktop computing platform. Jupyter notebooks are well and good providing the shit you're doing can live in a Jupyter notebook. For a vast majority of the world with a Word window open that is simply not the case.

If we want to shoehorn computer classes into already packed curricula we should focus on basic computing concepts rather than trying to teach everyone to write programs. Whether kids learn to use Office, Google docs, or Markdown having them learn the basics of using a computer is far more important to their future productivity than some Python scripts.

Yeah, that knowledge they pick up in college. I knew how to script and write simple TI-89 programs before college. I didn't have a use for them until I learned mechanical engineering. I went to college to pick up that "significant amount of extra knowledge".

So your argument is school kids should all be thrown into programming classes so they can "automate their jobs" but then they need a full college education to be able to understand enough to be able to automate their jobs?

I've encountered a terrifying number of people coming out of college CS programs with no abilities to actually sit down and write programs. You're expecting non-CS graduates to be able to program well enough to "automate their jobs"?

I'd much rather see schools spend money helping kids become numerate and literate. They'll be much better equipped for the future if they can communicate and understand numbers than if they took a few semesters of Python.

Comment Re:It won't, and note microsoft is always involved (Score 1) 317

Knowing how to program allows you to automate your job. Programming is the new 'keyboarding'. You're looking it like CS is the 'job'. The 'job' is something else that needs to be automated.

Every time this subject comes up I see this tired idea reiterated (always with an anecdote attached). The problem is that it is complete bullshit. It's bullshit because everyone ends up using different definitions of "programming" or "Computer science" to fit their preconceived ideas.

Say a high school gives kids a year of Python programming. Python is easy to learn and relatively forgiving. A few years later those kids get jobs. Oh man, they can automate their work with their Python skills! Except their job involves using Word, Excel, and some bespoke LOB applications.

It's technically possible for them to do some automation using Python but requires a significant amount of extra knowledge on top of knowing Python itself. Very few jobs have a bunch of easily digested ASCII data that is easily manipulated by the novice Python programmer.

If you want people to automate their jobs teach them VBA and introduce them to AutoHotKey. They'll be able to do far more automation with those than Python in a majority of jobs. Help them understand templates in Word and they can turn their piss poor grammar into something that at least looks consistent. Shit even just teaching them how to do better Google searches would help them more in the long run than a programming class.

The disconnect is that using a computer (the programs on it) is very different from programming one. The skills of programming do not necessarily correspond to basic computer usage. Nor does programming actually teach people formal logic or necessarily improve their skills at reasoning. These in fact are precursor skills to programming.

Comment Re:why is critical infrastructure on the internet? (Score 1) 62

While not universally true, there's a good deal of critical infrastructure that is airgapped and "secure". What can happen is these systems end up compromised when an engineer plugs a previously invected laptop or flash drive into that secure network/system. The payload can then either infect those airgapped systems or exfiltrate data (onto the infected laptop/drive) in order to exfiltrate it to the internet once its on a connected system.

This is the sort of hacking that is done by APTs, i.e. full blown cyber espionage. The infection can occur through highly targeted exploitation (spear phishing, etc).

While air-gapping a critical system is easy in theory in practice it is much more difficult to truly do so. Air gaps aren't just an absence of a physical connection to the outside world but also lacking a logical connection to the outside world. That process gets much more difficult and expensive because the operator needs to build a fully isolated environment for the critical system themselves as well as any sort of management and monitoring systems.

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