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Comment Re: TracPhone: $7/month. (Score 1) 200

Oh rly? Which plan is that? The Pinocchio plan?

It's not really a plan. It's the $19.99 60-minute, 90 day refill card. With a smartphone, the minutes "triple" to 180, and you also get 180 texts and 180mb data. If you sign up for auto-refill, you get a small discount off that (and it becomes kind of a plan).

If your wireless needs fit that profile, it works out to around $7/month. I've saved a boatload of money going down that route, although I have needed to supplement it with a few data-only refills, which has only tacked on a couple of bucks per month for me on average. It does kind of rule out using any audio or video while not in WiFi range, and you can't yammer on the phone endlessly, but for me that's an acceptable trade-off.

Comment Re:More science (Score 2) 275

Over the time scale of the next century, only one input signal will dominate: the amount of added greenhouse gases. All of that other stuff either oscillates too fast or has an insignificant effect. Other signals that would have a big impact, such as changes in the earth's orbit that drive ice ages, or movement of mountain ranges due to continental drift, are too slow to have an impact over the next couple of centuries.

Relative to the greenhouse gas signal, the climate *was* very close to an equilibrium on a human timescale. It certainly isn't any longer; it's being strongly driven into ranges hotter than it's been for millions of years.

Comment Re:More science (Score 1) 275

The final color of mixing two buckets of paint is the integrated effect of chaotic stirring (and all of the world's supercomputers probably couldn't predict the exact pattern of those swirls). However, the final color can easily be calculated with high precision using a hand calculator. Integration has smaller error bars than you think it does.

Comment Re:Its pretty important... (Score 3, Informative) 307

So ironically, transporting the oil and gas out of the region is putting oil and gas production in jeopardy.

That would seem to be yet another reason to transition this country away from fossil fuels altogether. That would address both the erosion issue and the fossil fuel dependence at the same time.

As far as seafood goes, there's going to be a coastline somewhere, no matter how far it moves into the current state of Louisiana. The seafood will still come from wherever that is.

Comment BASIC cartridge on a Bally Astrocade (Score 1) 857

The Astrocade game console only had a numeric input keypad. Coding programs was like texting on a feature phone, but without any text prediction, and especially without switch debouncing logic.

The cartridge itself did have a 1/8" jack so you could possibly save the fruits of your labor onto a cassette tape, with some luck.

The game console had almost no memory, so BASIC programs were stored in every other bit of the video frame buffer, and palette tricks were used to make the raw program data invisible on the display.

Comment Re:Not exactly direct evidence (Score 1) 156

not that the images actually show us Dark Matter.

Most people are "electromagnetic chauvinists", because all of their senses depend on an electromagnetic field in some way. If a physical phenomenon doesn't create an electromagnetic field, many people refuse to believe that it could exist. However, nothing in physics says that everything in the universe has to be able to create an electromagnetic effect.

In fact, dark matter does slightly alter electromagnetic fields by bending it over cosmic distances (as well as moving normal matter around). This isn't too much less tangible than neutrinos, about which few people currently doubt.

Comment Re:memory allocation errors, gone. (Score 1) 300

> The size of allocated blocks are typically computed at runtime to match the needed length of the input data.

You don't know the length of the input until you have read it in. To read it in you need a buffer, that buffer will have a fixed length.

Even a 'character varying' field in a database will have some maximum length.

Are you really that dim? The allocated block size is by definition big enough for your data, because you know the data size when you allocate. If you need to expand it more, then you reallocate a bigger one. Neither of those properties holds for precompiled fixed-length buffers.

The lowliest database, sqlite, has a string size limit of 1e9 bytes. It's probably not going to be an issue unless one of your columns holds full-length videos.

Comment Re:memory allocation errors, gone. (Score 2) 300

blocks allocated by malloc are of fixed size, there is nothing new here

Wrong. The size of allocated blocks are typically computed at runtime to match the needed length of the input data. That's a big difference from defining some fixed-size buffers at compile time, then hoping or forcing all of the eventual input data to fit.

Comment Re:memory allocation errors, gone. (Score 4, Interesting) 300

Everything in life is a tradeoff.

When the developer avoids allocation headaches by using fixed-sized strings and data structures, users are often saddled with arbitrary truncations and the need to make up funky abbreviations all throughout their data sets. This can be a major source of errors in itself.

Comment Re:The 3 Laws (Score 1) 7

I should have it posted in a day or two. Both translations will be there (the Australian one is better, but still not good enough as it has a fax, which wouldn't be invented for decades).

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