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Comment Re:No escape (Score 1) 288

It sounds like it's software configurable, and that there will be an API to control this, from how it's described. That would be the ideal solution, so if someone just wanted to put the old function keys back, they can do that, rather than having to hold the Fn key down, which sounds awkward - maybe even allowing it to be toggled. It sort of depends on how much control Apple allows, of course.

It's hard to say without using it, but this could turn into a neat feature. Function keys are nothing more than arbitrary application-specific shortcut keys. Why not just turn those into a visual context-sensitive set of buttons related to the particular application you're using? After all, that's what the function keys are for, only you have to memorize them. Plus, function keys aren't typically involved in touch-typing, so in this case, the loss of physical buttons doesn't seem that much of a drawback.

Microsoft has sort of tried this before on one of their keyboards, where they tried replacing the function keys with a common set of command keys. In one particularly stupid version of the keyboard, these new function keys were made default instead of the older function keys (annoying me every time I cycle the power on that computer). But a fixed set of commands has a limited appeal to a broad range of applications (for instance, F7 is 'reply', which is obviously only helpful to an e-mail or chat client). I think this approach has more possibilities.

Comment Re:Why not? (Score 4, Insightful) 71

Why not? Let's see... Internet of Thing botnets are already in the hands of script-kiddies / hackers... we don't really know who, and they've already demonstrated that they have the ability to negatively impact large portions of the internet. And that was the low hanging fruit. It really feels like we need to slow down a bit and figure out how to harden and secure our infrastructure from bad actors before we start inventing new ways for our devices to be used to attack a very important global resource.

Comment Re:Hardware is so much better? (Score 1) 78

Well, I still have to disagree, at least to some extent. And not with a -1 mod (I hate that too, btw).

I think the biggest difference is in whether you buy bottom of the barrel priced and quality stuff or not, even with computers. For example:

I purchase my computers from a custom PC boutique dealer and probably pay half again as much as a comparable brand from a box store, maybe even more. But these guys analyze each component for failure rates out in the field, and only sell the highest-rated parts in terms of reliability. They also do more extensive burn in tests, thermal and airflow analysis, etc. Yes, they're the same components everyone else uses, but there are many differences in quality among those common components, and even in how carefully a PC is built, and how stable a system is without a bunch of crapware installed. So, generally speaking, the computers I buy tend to last a long time, and that includes the PC I purchased earlier this year as well (a Linux dev machine).

By contrast, do you remember Packard Bell computers, popular a few decades ago? Those were absolute pieces of crap, and I'll bet few of them managed to last five years. Relatives that bought those computers seemed to have nothing but problems with them.

As far as early failures go, yes, you're going to have some failures at the relatively low prices we pay for electronics these days, but I'm not sure it's any grand conspiracy to deliberately make things more fragile. I just think that failures are more likely to occur as our devices push technological boundaries and get more complex, meaning they simply have more potential points of failure, while at the same time dropping dramatically in price from what we used to pay for these items. And yes, occasionally, you find a brand that is just badly designed - junk from the outset. A bit of research helps to avoid most of those issues.

Smartphones are a different matter - I agree there's some planned obsolescence forced on us, simply because the carriers and manufacturers stop supporting perfectly good hardware with updates. But that's not really a technological matter, but a policy issue. My three year old phone was top of the line when I bought it, but now is apparently "obsolete", which is ridiculous. It still can run nearly any app or OS version just fine, only it's no longer being updated.

Comment Re:Hardware is so much better? (Score 2) 78

I think you're suffering from a bit of rose-colored nostalgia.

I remember cars not starting on winter mornings because they were temperamental as hell, and breaking down much more often, requiring costly servicing or repairs. By contrast, today's cars run far more reliably than they used to. I've heard people complain about all the electronics packed into them, but it's all those electronics, among other factors, that keeps the car running in good condition and warns you when anything goes wrong. Many modern cars can last 250K miles if you take good care of them, which used to be almost unheard of several decades ago, when 100K miles was often pushing things.

I'm not quite as certain modern electronic hardware fails quite as frequently as you think either. Many of my current electronics (like my current computers) are five or six years old and running just fine - I'm betting they'll both last quite a few more years, easy. My last TV lasted a dozen years, and my microwave lasted over twenty years. I guess we'll have to see if my new ones do as well, but they're doing fine so far after several years.

You can greatly improve your chances finding quality hardware by doing a bit of due diligence beforehand to find which devices are the most reliable (and avoiding the temptation to rush out and buy the latest, greatest whatever). Of course, sometimes you're bound to get a lemon. For instance, I've had somewhat spotty luck with routers/wireless hubs until my current one. But overall, I'm not sure I buy the argument that everything of yesteryear was somehow better made - at least at equivalent prices.

Comment Re:Product placement (Score 2) 236

They can distinguish one thing...they can't fucking work. Who gives a shit whether it's a crash or freeze.

Just to clarify, I'm not blaming the coaches or players for that. I agree that from their perspective, if it doesn't work it doesn't work, and that's all that matters to them.


Feel better after lashing out at a random stranger on the internet? Happy to help you out with that.

Comment Re:How do you secure the unsecurable? (Score 1) 190

I'm not sure I like putting all the blame on the users. Don't we have a reasonable expectation that we're not going to be sold faulty products? And I can't characterize such brain-dead non-security as anything but "broken".

Maybe we also should force companies to shoulder the cost of a product recall if their device is found to have security issues that can't be automatically patched and fixed. That would add a nice financial incentive for companies to release more secure products.

If a company continues to release broken product after broken product, then the FCC or other regulatory body steps in and forbids them to sell any internet-connected device, since they've demonstrated themselves to be a public menace.

Comment Re:Product placement (Score 5, Informative) 236

I'm going to guess that those who complain about them don't (or even can't) distinguish crashes or freezes from connectivity issues. This isn't really a new story, as these sorts of glitches have been happening on occasion since being introduced. Given that these things obviously rely on wireless info feeds, and (as you indicated) that such wireless or communication systems fail in stadiums on occasion, I'm not sure I'd be so quick to blame the hardware or software.

I've seen that, as an MMO developer, whenever an ISP has a problem, people immediately blame the developer for whatever lag or disconnectivity they're experiencing. I think it's human nature to blame the software or hardware sitting in front of them rather than some invisible infrastructure sitting in-between.

I'd agree though, that this is something that Microsoft should have considered. It was risky to push something like this when there was a chance for very public and visible failures like that, even if it's not necessarily Microsoft's fault. Moreover, I really dislike the NFL pushing tools like this on the teams. They should have an opportunity to use their choice of technology when it comes to tools used in course of the game (within reasonable limits, of course). This is nothing like "official coffee of the NFL". This is a tool that can actually make an impact on the game if it succeeds or fails.

Comment Re:Using multiple languages (Score 1) 62

Yep, I agree, although I think "microservices" is better described as "any sort of specialized language domain", and is a little less buzzword-bingo-ready.

I recently finished work on a small embedded language that I'm using in my own projects. I published it on GitHub. Interest? Zero. Quite literally, no one else is using it, as far as I can tell. No worries, it's got one satisfied customer, and it's available for others to use if they want. It was hugely satisfying to design the language and work through a bunch of problems in the design and implementation phase. I spent quite a bit of time on API documentation and even a comprehensive tutorial, so if anyone ever stumbles across it, it shouldn't be too hard to pick up.

I think it's a great thing to keep designing new languages, even if very few of them gain traction. At the very worst, it's likely that they'll inspire interesting changes and trends among the bigger languages in their next revision. At best, a few of them may catch hold and grow into something cool. I think every programmer at some point thinks "what would I do differently if I designed a language from scratch?", and a few of them even go try it out.

Comment Re:bullshit (Score 2) 176

So the best modeling offered can predict next years climate with 62% accuracy. That says a lot about climate modeling over the next century.

Keep in mind that while short term predictions can be chaotic, it's sometimes easier to see long-term patterns emerge, and to extrapolate data from those trends, like trending lines through a scatter plot. I agree that anything looking a century out is guesswork at best, but I'm not sure I'd say the same looking a decade out.

Historically, many climate-related doomsday predictions have been laughably innacurate. It's for this reason that I continue to be somewhat skeptical about current doomsday or long term projections, because so far *no one* has had much success with those sorts of predictions. Even so, as we have better instrumentation and more historical data with which to create models, it's all but inevitable that our climate prediction models become more accurate as well, certainly for shorter to medium length predictions, and maybe someday, even longer term.

Comment Re:Nice technical solution (Score 1) 71

It's important to make the distinction between platform-specific optimization and "hardware-level" optimization. The former undoubtedly occurs (e.g. managing video memory buffers, which is one area the two platforms have some significant differences), but doesn't necessarily imply hardware-level access, like what used to happen on the PS2 (since those didn't even have an OS to speak of). All that stuff is typically managed through OS-level APIs these days, not by poking around in raw memory.

So, when I say "bare-metal isn't a thing", I meant that direct to-the-metal programming is probably not even an option for console developers these days. I hesitate to say that for certain, because as I said, I'm no longer a console programmer, but that's the gist I get from other friends in the industry. I guess we'll see pretty soon, but again, my prediction is that you're not going to see too many problems with compatibility. I'm not sure why you think this is such a hard problem when the PC industry has been doing backwards compatibility and hardware abstraction for many years now.

Comment Re:Sounds good (Score 2) 57

No one (sane) questions whether solar works or not. It's a pretty straightforward technology, and it's intuitively ideal for reducing demand during peak hours, typically the middle of the work day. There are, however, questions about whether the economics make sense without government subsidies, which is where we'd like to eventually end up, I think.

For businesses, obviously an economic incentive is the most straightforward driver, and if it's good for the environment too, that's a happy bonus. I'm hopeful that over the next few years we'll start seeing some actual results with real numbers for installations on a mass scale over time - not projections, but real, historical data. I guess it also depends whether these corporations are willing to release those numbers over the next decade or so. You'd think that would be a requirement of getting these generous government subsidies (anyone know if it is?).

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