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Comment Re:Uh huh. (Score 2) 87

Getting the actual people there (and back) is the costly part. "Stuff" doesn't require four or five levels of fail-safe. "Stuff" doesn't need to take a shit or get sick or argue about politics.

Then the solution seems pretty straightforward: send only "stuff" up there for the first few years.

Once the "stuff" has organized itself (because robots) and is looking pretty good, then send up some human beings, if you still want to. They can walk right into to their prefab moon-hotel.

Comment This method never fails (Score 1) 214

Here's how to calculate a 100% accurate estimate 100% of the time, when your manager asks you to predict how long it will take to implement feature X:

1. Tell your manager you'll get the estimate for them as soon as you've done the necessary research
2. Go back to your desk
3. Write down the current time
4. Implement the feature
5. Subtract the time you wrote down in step (3) from the current time. This is your 100% accurate estimate of how long it took you to implement the feature
6. Email your manager, and let them know the estimate value. If you're feeling like it, you can also let them know that the feature is now implemented (although this may make them feel like the estimate you gave them is no longer particularly useful, so treat cautiously there)

Comment Re:Not just software. (Score 1) 214

For example, if the last time you did it, it took 3 weeks, a good prediction is that this time it's going to take 3 weeks.

Hopefully it will take less, because this time I will be able to take the code I wrote last time and just re-use it, possible with some minor modifications, rather than designing and implementing it all from scratch.

(Or if I can't do that, then either it's a new task and there wasn't actually any "last time I did it", or I did a lousy job last time of designing my code to be re-usable. Software development is mainly about automating previously manual processes so they can be repeated more quickly/easily in the future; that applies to the process of writing the software itself also)

Comment I couldn't get past "how do you write a game"? (Score 5, Interesting) 415

When I was learning about functional programming in college, I got about as far as learning about the avoidance of side effects, at which point I started asking myself, "how would one write a video game in an FP language if you're not supposed to e.g. update the player's on-screen position in response to a keystroke"? The answer I got was to either generate an entire new game-state for each update (which seemed unwieldy), or work around the problem using monads, which admittedly I never really understood. I went back to procedural programming since that looked like the more straightforward way to implement the kinds of programs I wanted to write.

My question now is, do people ever actually write video games using functional programming? And if so, how would an FP-based arcade-style video game realistically handle things like updating the state of the player and the monsters at 60fps, as the game progresses?

Comment Re:Well there's your problem (Score 1) 106

Considering his smarts, it sure seems dumb for Musk to reinvent the wheel, especially for something the end user has no control over whether it works or not. As I have said many times before, there's a reason mechanical light switches are still around. They work every time.

Have you seen the doors on the Model X? Elon Musk is the new Rube Goldberg. ;)

Comment Re:What are the benefits over electric? (Score 4, Informative) 163

Why Hydrogen?

Hydrogen is a way of storing power that doesn't require a heavy, expensive, short-lived battery pack.

Of course, this was a much better argument back in the bad old days when batteries had horrible energy density, were insanely expensive, and didn't last very long.

Now that battery technology has improved quite a bit, batteries only somewhat suck and are only expensive instead of insanely expensive -- so the advantages of hydrogen over battery storage are smaller.

I expect that in the future batteries will continue to get better, and people will stop talking about hydrogen because there won't be any advantage anymore.

Comment Re:Star Wars (Score 1) 1222

That `ring' from the Death Star explosion has always bothered me. To this day I keep thinking they should have made that a spherical blast effect.

I always assumed it was due to the way the exploding nuclear (or whatever it was) core was armored -- everywhere except around the middle, so that's where most of the energy came out.

Well, that, and because it looked cool :)

Comment Code 46 (2003) (Score 1) 1222

I'll nominate "Code 46"; it was beautifully filmed and acted, and was science fiction but it wasn't about stuff blowing up or constantly rubbing CGI in your face, so to me it felt like it could be a story that might actually happen 40-50 years from now rather than a fantasy play-set with robots and spaceships.

I'd link to the trailer, but the trailer is awful; it's better to just watch the movie directly.

Comment Re:Known problem (Score 1) 389

No, we can explain our software projects to other developers just fine. It's usually not worth the time/aggravation it takes to try to explain it to anyone else.

You understand the program well, because you wrote it. Eventually, though, you'll retire (or move on to another job) and responsibility for the program will be handed over to Joey the Talented Ex-Intern, who knows enough to be able to recompile the program, and knows how to grep for keywords to find (what is probably) the right file to change in order to modify a particular minor behavior from time to time. But Joey doesn't really understand the design, and nobody else at the company knows anything about it at all...

(or at least that is how it seems to work in my industry... ymmv :))

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Real Programmers don't write in PL/I. PL/I is for programmers who can't decide whether to write in COBOL or FORTRAN.