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Comment Re:This is interesting (Score 1) 711

Once there's enough testing done to prove it has potential, then engineers will take it, play with it, improve it, apply it, then sometime later, physicists and other scientists will figure out precisely why it works and why what the engineers did worked.

This reminds me of a joke we used to tell in undergraduate physics, years ago:

An engineer meets a theoretical physicist, and tells him about his new experiment. "I get this reading, but it doesn't make sense. What's happening?" asks the engineer.

"It may seem counter-intuitive, but that's easy to explain," says the theoretical physicist, and launches into a long explanation filled with quantum theory. "And that's why you get that number at the end."

The engineer is satisfied, and the two part ways.

The next day, the engineer again meets theoretical physicist, and says "I realized my multimeter was hooked up backwards, so my reading is actually negative that number. Interesting, eh?"

The theoretical physicist smiles. "Well, that's even easier to explain" he says.

Comment Re:Huh?!? (Score 1) 85

Just because so many are wrong don't change the meaning of the word.

I disagree. Definitions of words change all the time because a large number of people agree to a new meaning. One example is Decimate. Originally, this meant to kill 1/10th of a population - from the ancient Roman use of Decimation as a means of punishment of a group at once, such as punishment for desertion. Over time, people at large associated "decimate" with a disaster affecting large groups, and later the assumed meaning shifted to "destroy almost all of something."

And I watched that definition change over my lifetime. When I was in middle school, we learned "decimate" meant "one in ten" (hence "deci").

So over the span of thirty or forty years, "decimate" has changed from 10% to something like 90%.

The current definition:

verb (used with object), decimated, decimating.

1. to destroy a great number or proportion of:
The population was decimated by a plague.

2. to select by lot and kill every tenth person of.

Comment Why not use an algorithm? (Score 1) 465

I'm going to echo what an AC wrote suggesting an algorithm. Apparently Twitter has an algorithm to block abusive responses and used it "to filter out abusive and hateful replies to President Barack Obama during a Q&A session."

Twitter's algorithm isn't perfect, but it's not bad. From the Buzzfeed article: "According to a former senior Twitter employee, Costolo ordered employees to deploy an algorithm (which was built in-house by feeding it thousands of examples of abuse and harassing tweets) that would filter out abusive language directed at Obama. Another source said the media partnerships team also manually censored tweets, noting that Twitter’s public quality-filtering algorithms were inconsistent."

So maybe the algorithm isn't a perfect way to detect hate speech, but it can probably be used to indicate how likely a tweet is abusive. And users can use that to make their own decisions. From the AC:

What if Twitter had the algorithm set a score 0-5 of how likely it thought a tweet is offensive/hate speech, then Twitter let users set a threshold. So maybe someone could set their own threshold at 3 and not see tweets at 4 or 5 (highly likely to be abusive tweets) and someone else can set their threshold to 5 and see everything. People getting abused on Twitter would have a way to automatically block offensive tweets without anyone crying "censorship!"

I think that would get us pretty far down the road to helping people block abusive tweets without limiting anyone to what they can say (the "free speech" mentioned in the article).

Comment Re:Jim Hall (Score 2) 211

I have had the pleasure of corresponding with, and occasionally collaborating with, Jim Hall a few times over the years. He's not just active in the open source community, he's a really nice guy. Easy to work with, friendly and helpful. We've exchanged notes about package management, he's sent some patches to a project I was working on to make it more user-friendly (and DOS compatible). Jim manages to make a technically focused OS while being pleasant to work with. More open source project leaders could learn by his example.

This made my day. Thanks, whoever you are!

Comment Re: Downloading DOS shareware (Score 1) 211

Plenty of apps use the shareware model. Download a limited version (usually with ads) for free. Pay for all features and no advertisements.

Except that the model you describe is missing "you could share that limited version with anyone." Apps don't have an ecosystem where one user can share the app with someone else.

Comment Re:There was a modern MS DOS ... (Score 5, Informative) 211

(Jim Hall here, from the article.)

This is exactly why we decided a "modern" DOS wasn't really DOS anymore. As you say, OS/2 was intended to be the "modern" DOS of the day, a multitasking, protected mode operating system. But to get all that, you have to break binary compatibility. So OS/2 wasn't really DOS anymore. But it wasn't meant to be, hence the new name.

Ultimately, we decided that if you can't run classic DOS programs on a "modern" DOS, then it's not DOS anymore. So we decided to keep FreeDOS as just plain DOS. That's why FreeDOS 1.2 and later will still be essentially the same as FreeDOS 1.1 and earlier, with a few updates here and there. No fundamental changes. We won't be multitasking or multiuser or any other "modern" operating system functionality. That's not what it means to be DOS.

Comment Re:The problem with FreeDOS... (Score 4, Informative) 211

Or just run it in DOSBox on any OS. For most software that's the obvious thing to do.

Actually, it's better to run legacy business applications on an actual DOS system like FreeDOS. DOSBox is meant only for games. They don't have great compatibility with business software.

FreeDOS runs very well in PC emulators and virtual machines like QEMU, VirtualPC, VMWare, VirtualBox, and others. At home, I run QEMU and DOSemu to boot FreeDOS. (When I'm developing, I use DOSemu so I can share files easily between Linux and FreeDOS. When I want to test FreeDOS in a more traditional virtual machine, I run QEMU.) It runs great!

Comment Re:You're not that old (Score 4, Interesting) 211

Yeah, the problem is that the Internet is dominated by the voices of the PC generation, who somehow never learned that there actually was a long history of computing before the PC and MS-DOS.

CP/M and other precursor OSes are really only of interest to historians and nostalgic geeks, but DOS actually has some real relevance to many people and projects even today, thanks to FreeDOS and the fact that we're still running x86-compatible machines... which is sort of astounding, actually.

Sure, there was a long history of computing before the PC and MS-DOS, but it was constrained to very few people for the most part - specialists, hobbyists, professionals, academics, and so on. But it was really the PC, running MS-DOS for the most part, when the vast majority of people were introduced to computers for the first time. So, it's not all that surprising that DOS is seen - rightly, I think - as the OS most used at the beginning of the personal computer revolution.

Even so, I don't think that many people mistake that for the beginning of computing in general. If nothing else, they saw computers on TV, with walls of reel-to-reel tapes and flashing lights.

The interview was about DOS, so I didn't talk about the other stuff before DOS (and after).

Our first "computer" was a mainframe acoustic coupler dial-up terminal my mom brought home for a week, so she could do some work at home. I wasn't very excited about it at the time; it was all business software and I was like eight years old.

I seem to remember we had another computer in the house at one point. Not a TRS-80 but something along those lines.

In 1982, my family bought an Apple clone (Franklin ACE 1000) and that was where my brother and I taught ourselves to write programs in AppleBASIC. I was fascinated by computer interfaces that we saw on TV and in the movies, so I wrote programs that emulated those, including the thermonuclear war simulator from the Wargames(1983) movie.

Some time after that, we bought an IBM (I think the XT). And that's what got me started with MS-DOS.

We used MS-DOS at home (upgrading to the '286 and '386 and '486) until I went to college with the family's old '386. During my university days, I had an account on the VAX and the Unix systems. I discovered Linux, and switched to that on my own computer (dual-boot with MS-DOS). I mostly avoided Windows at home, although I did run Windows 3.11 and Windows 95 for a short time - mostly for games. At work, I ran Apollo AEGIS/DomainOS, HP-UX, AIX, SunOS/Solaris, and Linux (RedHat 3.0.3 and later). Work also put me on a Windows NT4 desktop, which I ran for a while until they let me run Linux at work full-time. In the office, I've run either Windows (whatever was current) or Linux. At home, I just run Linux (I'm running Fedora Linux now) and use DOSemu or QEMU to run FreeDOS.

Comment Re:Downloading DOS shareware (Score 3, Informative) 211

For shareware we relied on floppy disks and CDs. Most of them came attached to some magazine.

I wonder how many new devs know what "shareware" was? For those wondering: shareware was a concept where devs created something and gave away a limited version of it for free. And you could share that limited version with anyone. Shareware games usually were the first "chapter" or first few levels. Shareware DOS applications usually just nagged you to buy them after 30 days - but I don't remember many that actually stopped working if they weren't registered.

I mentioned some shareware in the interview, but I played a lot of Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM, Commander Keen, Rise of the Triad, Epic Pinball, Jill of the Jungle, and Duke Nukem back then. These are all DOS shareware games.

I used a lot of DOS shareware applications for other things. AsEasyAs and GalaxyWrite got me through a lot of my university physics program. I analyzed lab data in AsEasyAs (because the old saying is "as easy as 1-2-3" ... and Lotus 1-2-3 was a popular commercial spreadsheet ... get it?) and wrote class papers in GalaxyWrite (not as powerful as WordPerfect, but great for papers). I also remember a bunch of other DOS shareware applications but can't remember their names anymore: a modem-terminal program, an equation solver, etc.

Comment Modern DOS (Score 4, Insightful) 211

I am seizing Control of this article and asking Hey, Slashdot, if there were a modern DOS, what would it be like?

I know you're posting as an AC so probably won't get seen, but I'll reply anyway because it's an interesting question.

In short, you get Linux.

We discussed this in great depth in various places, and if you try to project a "modern" DOS to today, you end up with a 32-bit multitasking kernel that provides native networking and hardware abstraction. You lose binary compatibility; applications written for the newer "modern" DOS won't run on, say, MS-DOS 6. But that wouldn't be surprising; many programs written for MS-DOS 6 wouldn't run on MS-DOS 3, either. You need to provide some method of forward compatibility, of course. To run a "classic" DOS application on the "modern" DOS would require some kind of emulation environment.

And if you want that, run Linux. Because Linux is a 32-bit multitasking kernel that provides native networking and hardware abstraction. You don't have binary compatibility; applications written for Linux won't run on MS-DOS 6. To run "classic" DOS applications on Linux requires an emulation environment like DOSemu (which requires FreeDOS, by the way).

Once you break binary compatibility, a "modern" DOS isn't really DOS anymore. What's the point in a "modern" DOS if you can't run classic DOS programs on it? Because that's not DOS, it's something else.

Comment Re:To be fair... (Score 1) 251

He's a loud mouth idiot who was screaming right up until last week

If they want to stick with the formula, I believe Nigel Farage is now available.

He wasn't always screaming - sometimes he was throwing up due to motion sickness after driving around in a fast car. That doesn't seem like someone who should host a show about fast cars.

Disclaimer: I haven't watched the show. Not interested.

Comment Probably the Amazon Video model (Score 5, Interesting) 83

The article doesn't say, but here's my thought:

I expect this will use a model similar to Amazon Video, where you can download Amazon Prime videos for offline viewing using the Amazon Video app (such as iPad) and they automatically expire in a few weeks. For movies and shows you've purchased via Amazon Video, you can also download for later viewing and those don't go away. But I think the "Amazon Prime" model applies to Netflix here.

So I wouldn't expect you to be able to download a movie to your home media server and watch it for free forever. You're likely going to be stuck watching it from whatever device you downloaded it on, using the Netflix app.

This seems to be a trend in the industry. I was part of a focus group from HBO where they asked a bunch of questions about "What if we allowed you to download 'n' movies and shows using the HBO Now app on your phone or iPad, and gave you 'x' amount of time to watch them? How long should 'x' be? How many should 'n' be?" I got the impression from the interviews that HBO is thinking about doing this too. HBO even cited the Amazon model, and asked if I used this feature {I do, on iPad} and how many shows and movies I usually download at a time {about 4 shows} and if I can watch them in two weeks {yes}.

It's not a bad compromise.

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