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Comment The Circle of Life is complete! (Score 1) 358

I was a new software engineer at Sun when Java was developed; in the industry, lots of "old guard" people immediately started ragging on it. Now it's the scripting language kiddos who mostly rant about it as "old and outdated." Achievement unlocked!

It's a tool, nothing more nor less. It happens to be one that's good enough for a lot of tasks, with a huge installed base and many years of well-tested open-source libraries available. The only newish language that I see with a chance to topple it is Go, but it still has many years of development to match Java's reach and scope. (I went to the most recent Gophercon, and was impressed by the energy; I predict that Google will at some point ditch Java/Dalvik for a Go-based stack on Android.)

At this point, it's the plain vanilla ice cream of programming languages: maybe not your favorite, but it won't kill you, and will always do in a pinch!

Comment A bit of clarification (Score 5, Informative) 60

The rocket was in fact carrying satellites -- a large primary payload (HawaiiSat-1), and a number of small CubeSats.

The SuperStrypi is an evolved variant of a spin-stabilized 1960s sounding rocket, so the axial spin is expected, though the anomaly that ultimately doomed the mission was not!

Disclaimer: I helped port some code to run on the system board of one the CubeSats. Let's just say it was a disappointing afternoon....

Comment 1986, X10, in the WEB at Berkeley (not www) (Score 1) 204

The Workstations in Evans Basement (WEB), on a bunch of diskless Sun 4/50s running X10 with uwm.

Once I got settled in, I started running X11(R1? R2?) with a custom root window bitmap and fielded lots of questions from other undergrads about how I'd done it. I later worked at Sun on XNeWS and DeskSet, among other things.

Even to this day, I use X's network transparency, though mostly just for xterms at this point.

Comment Really, not news. (Score 1) 372

SF has always been a bedroom community for Silicon Valley, to some extent: I moved to SF from the Peninsula in '93.

Caltrain is simply not capable of being a full solution to the problem of getting people out of their cars, so the buses are a very reasonable solution. I'm lucky enough that my company moved to SF this year, so it's Muni every day for me. (Sometimes a mixed blessing!)

Not to be too cynical, but San Franciscans will always have something to complain about. My grandmother didn't like all the "new development" out in the Sunset, which since it happened in the 1920s gives you some perspective. I love my crowded quirky little city, and certainly don't begrudge the Apple, Google, and Genentech buses in my neighborhood, though I do wish they'd coexist better with Muni.

I sort of laugh at the people being shocked at "houses built right next to each other": um, have you never been to a city before? (I'm talking about Paris, Manhattan, London, or Tokyo, not someplace spread out like Phoenix.) We have the density but not the height, lots of trees and parks, and many neighborhoods are very walkable.

In short: cities are dense, people like to complain, and private mass transit is good at moving people from once place to another.

Comment Re:Not to quibble, but... (Score 1) 164

Um, in the very first sentence:

Stanley Kubrick's most popular and enduring film is 2001: A Space Odyssey, a work he co-wrote with noted Science Fiction author Arthur C. Clark. It's considered among the best in the genre.

Sorry to sound snarky, but that combined with the initial quote didn't start me off with a particularly favorable impression. I reject the premise that there is "commercial film" as opposed to "real film": there is a continuum of works, making use of various techniques to a greater or lesser extent.

Furthermore, I think 2001 the film works precisely because of the tension between Clarke's fundamentally optimistic view of human nature, and Kubrick's pessimistic one.

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Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!