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Comment Re:GUIs and AIs and Ohs (Score 2) 169

Oh, be careful, friend! I made the grave mistake of suggesting on Reddit that we've kinda/sorta/maybe become too enamored of CLIs and that just MAYBE a GUI MIGHT have prevented this, and I got hammered mercilessly.

You don't want to say anything that doesn't equate to worship at the feet of the almighty, great and awesome CLI around the wrong people.

Comment Re:In retrospect, (Score 2) 134

One could make a very strong argument that gun owners played a big part in getting Trump elected.

The Democrats continue to yammer on about gun control despite a HUGE portion of the population being against gun control (yep, I said it - the polls the liberals like to say showing the opposite are BS, plain and simple, and it wouldn't be at all surprising to find out a majority are actually NOT on their side). Most people think guns cost the Democrats control of Congress after the AWB was passed and most gun owners very likely went for Trump, and not because they legitimately thought he was a good candidate, I bet many in fact did not think that, but because they knew how bad Clinton would be for gun rights, and that matters a great deal to them. Gun owners are a highly mobilized voting block, possibly larger and more reliable than any other block, and a bigger one than the left seems to think, and so it could very well be that guns played a large part in this result.

I'd say that's a meaningful change at least, though whether it's for the better is debatable.

Comment Kinda sounds like how a LASER works (Score 5, Insightful) 299

You've got a cavity. Inside you pump some energy. The energy is nominally trapped and bounces around. Eventually, some of it finds its way out in a coherent way. Seems like the paper is describing a similar explanation as to how LASERs work, roughly-speaking. Sounds plausible for sure.

Comment Article summary isn't quite accurate (Score 1) 699

"...Windows and other operating systems are also prone to this issue when using UEFI"

Well, no. They have the same underlying potential problem, yes... but Windows isn't susceptible to the rm -rf / since it doesn't, by default, have the rm command. These two aren't quite the same thing. The summary makes it sound like there's parity between Linux and Windows but that's not accurate. It takes about 20 lines of code (as per the article) to do the same thing on Windows. So yeah, it's a legitimate UNDERLYING problem, but let's not make it sound like it's the same situation on both platforms 'cause it's not really.

Comment Speaking as a gun rights advocate and gun owner... (Score 1) 464

...I know of no gun owners that I've ever heard say "we don't want smart gun technology available".

What I absolutely HAVE heard, and have said myself, is that it's got to be 100% an OPTION, not a MANDATE.

It's totally cool with me for smart gun technology to be on the market, so long as it's my choice whether to buy it or not. Frankly, I'd be inclined to buy at least one. But, there's some caveats.

First, the cost can't be drastically different than a non-smart gun. I understand we'll have to pay a bit more, but if it's more than about 10-15% of the cost of a non-smart gun then it becomes little more than creating an artificial barrier to entry.

Second, and this is by far the bigger issue: you've got to prove to me that the reliability of a smart gun at least equals that of a non-smart gun. You see, when my life is on the line I trust the guns I own 100%. Am I going to be able to have the same trust in a smart gun? Hmm. Are the batteries dead? Is my hand sweaty and so my fingerprint can't be read immediately? Does the bad guy have some sort of jamming device that makes my RFID wristband not work? Is the software that reads the signal from my watch buggy? You can risk your life on these questions, but I'm not willing to. I want the dead simple mechanical device that I can be all but certain is going to go bang when I need it to.

Maybe the technology will get there some day and none of this will be a concern. I'm totally cool with them being brought to market and evolved over time to get to that point. But the first time someone in authority tells me I HAVE to use these smart guns then that's the point at which they've got to be just as reliable as a conventional gun. We're absolutely not even close to that point yet.

Will that matter to some anti-gun people? Nope, not in the least. They'll want them mandated and conventional guns outlawed as soon as the first one hits the market. New Jersey actually has a law already on the books that says the first time that smart guns are available anywhere in the country then that's all that will be sold in NJ. That's the kind of thing us gun owners are vehemently opposed to, not the notion of smart guns themselves.

So let's be clear: when you show me a (flawed, but that's another story) poll that says most people want smart guns, I've got to wonder if they are informed about the comparative reliability, and more importantly, if they'd have given the same answer if they were told that a smart gun is ALL they will be able to have? I bet if you asked THAT question you'd get a VERY different response (assuming you fix the obvious confirmation bias at the heart of the poll's methodology to begin with).

Comment This is a self-solving problem (Score 1) 353

Let's say this thing passes. First of all, fuck anyone who votes for it. But that aside, all that has to happen is Apple alone has to say "ok, fine, no iPhones can be sold in NY." Shut down the Apple store there.

I'd bet this bill is reversed inside a week.

I don't mean to put it all on Apple of course, but it really only takes them. If the Samsung's and HTCs and LG's of the world do it too then that's even better. But it really just takes Apple.

Sure, they'd lose some income, but like I said, I'd bet good money it's so brief a period they don't even notice the loss. People would be ALL OVER the pricks that pushed for that shit they'd have no choice but to undo it quickly.

Comment Re: Huh? (Score 1) 154

That's not what they need to do though. What they need to do is Frankenstein two CPUs in the same package: a low-power x86 and an ARM. Then, it becomes simple: when stuck in a dock, the x86 CPU kicks in and gives you your (more or less) full-powered desktop computer. When not docked, it shuts down and the ARM processor kicks in and what you have on your maybe 6" phone is Windows Mobile.

The trick is it's got to be 100% seemless.

You see, some people think that a Surface Phone has to run the exact same software in both use cases and that's just not the case. What (I believe) people actually want is a full PC in phone form when docked, using proper desktop apps (and optionally Universal apps like today) but then just the lower-powered Unviersal apps when on the go. They can conceivably share the same data (i.e., maybe I use Outlook when docked but just the simpler Mail app on the go).

I think this is what people actually want, even if they don't realize it or can't explain it, and I think this is what Microsoft is working towards. It's a technical challenge to be sure, both hardware and software-wise... but damned if we aren't pretty close to being able to pull it off. I'm not sure it's this year, but probably next.

Comment There really is an amazingly simple answer... (Score 1) 692

Everyone is making a big deal out of a "problem" that is ridiculously simple to solve:

Every government on Earth says to its citizens: "You can either get this treatment that will make you live this much longer... OR you can have children... but you CANNOT have both." Have a police force charged with enforcing this rule, and nothing more. Make the penalty for disobeying EXTREMELY harsh... like forced abortion, or the child can live but both parents are put to death right after.

Sound harsh? Nope, it's a choice for every single person, nobody is forced into anything.

Think it won't work? It ABSOLUTELY will, and here's why: humans, the VAST majority, are at their core selfish beings. Given the choice between living hundreds of years, or maybe even indefinitely, or having children, MOST of them are going to choose the selfish option and say they'll give up having kids. Guaranteed.

Now, before you say it, this plan needs some tweaks to cover all the bases... for example, there's got to be some minimum age where this decision is made. Is is 18? 21? You want someone to be old enough to make a proper decision of course... but then, what do you do with anyone who has a kid BEFORE that age? I'd suggest maybe a stiff fine, stiff enough to dissuade MOST people from having a kid before the designated age, but you're still going to have some and we don't want to be killing teens, right? But, teen pregnancy has been on the decline anyway, so it seems that education works, so it's probably not a dealbreaker.

Do we perhaps make people have to undergo a procedure to render them unable to have children when they decide? Would certainly make he policing requirement less, but that might be a bit much... worth debating at least.

Of course, you still have to ensure enough people do procreate to keep the species genetically viable and not stagnate... maybe a lottery? Half the population gets to live forever, half have to procreate, and it's all random? Hmm, lots of chances for abuse of course, and that aside, it kinda hurts my "democracy" brain that says everyone should have an equal chance at the good life... maybe just limit it? Like, if you get picked to have kids you can only have one, and you only get to live an extra 200 years or something? That might seem like a good trade-off right now, but when the average lifespan is 1,000 years it's not going to seem like such a good deal.

So yeah, I'm not saying there aren't some holes that have to be plugged to make it all work right, but the point is if you simply give people the choice between children and a massive increase in their own lifespan, the basic problem is going to solve itself based on nothing but simple human nature, that's the bottom line.

Comment For me, it's my next DESKTOP (Score 1) 136

For many years, I've resisted the laptop-only paradigm... laptops have only in the last couple of years been powerful enough to function as my primary PC, so I still have my desktop at home where I do most of my real work, and I also have a laptop where I can continue that work on-the-go, though at a slightly reduced rate. But, of course, that means synchronization issues (which I get around 99% of the time by keeping everything in Subversion).

So, for me, a SINGLE device that can do everything I want is what I've been looking for... laptops have gotten to the point where they could (especially given that my desktop isn't state-of-the-art like it was when I built it)... but, I don't want to go the laptop route even now because the form factor isn't as convenient as a tablet in some situations (I have a Nexus 7 for my tablet needs too).

I've been looking at the Surface's and Dell's Venue series for a while now and I've been thinking one could be my next desktop, and I could get rid of the laptop and Nexus as well... my wife grabbed a Surface 2 a few months back on sale so I've had some hands-on time with it... even though she didn't get a top-of-the-line model (though she DID NOT get an RT), it would *almost* be sufficient for all my needs... the cheaper i7 Surface 3 I believe is everything I need.

I personally think Microsoft has nailed it: the Surface is a DESKTOP replacement that ALSO can be a portable like a laptop or tablet. I view the later two things as add-on capabilities and I think that's the mistake many people are making. Don't look at the Surface as a tablet, or as a laptop replacement (unless your primary machine today *IS* a laptop)... it's a desktop replacement with great mobility added on, that's my view.

Comment Re:Hey Tim (Score 5, Insightful) 274

Because achieving that lower rate has an associated cost.

If we got rid of all guns in America, it's reasonable to assume the violent crime rate overall would go down to some degree. How much is debatable because some of the violent crimes committed with guns now would still be committed just with a different instrument. But it would go down, that seems fair.

But, what of the people who now do not have a gun to defend themselves? Quite a few defensive gun uses occur daily in America... exactly how many is difficult to know because they're frequently not reported (because simply pulling out a gun will sometimes end a violent confrontation and people tend not to report those cases). I wouldn't go so far as to say the number of people saved by there not being a gun involved is equal to the number saved by there BEING a gun involved, but clearly SOME number cancel out. Here's the big question: is a life saved because we got rid of guns somehow more valuable than one saved because we didn't? Do you want to tell the family of a gun who was killed because he wasn't allowed to have a gun anymore that it's okay because someone else was saved due to guns being removed from society? I'd bet not.

So, that's a cost. Whether the benefits outweigh that cost is what's debatable. A lot of people take the Spock approach: the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. It's a great-sounding platitude, but when it gets down to actual people it doesn't stand up so well. See my above scenario.

A potentially MUCH bigger cost is the deterrent effect guns have against a corrupt government. We can argue all day and night about without an armed American population could overthrow a corrupt government with the might of the military on its side, but what CAN'T be debated is that if you remove guns from society you've given up just about the ONLY thing that gives us ANY chance whatsoever. I mean, if you believe the military would crush us WITH guns than you can't logically think it wouldn't be MUCH worse it we didn't have them!

So, that's a (potential) cost too... but that one is very important because the potential cost is MASSIVE. Is there really ANY benefit worth that cost? I for one argue no. It's exceedingly tragic any time someone dies... whether a gun is involved or not hardly matters... a suicide is a suicide, gun or not. A homicide is a homicide, gun or not. The only one that's a little different is accidental shootings because it's not like someone is going to accidentally kill you as easily with a baseball bat. But, statistically-speaking, accidental shootings in America isn't, to put it coldly, all that significant a number. It's certainly a much smaller number than car accidents, or even pool drownings year by year. Even if every last one of them is unarguably tragic, logically, the cost of saving those lives by getting rid of guns is too high, and that's even before we talk about the POTENTIAL costs.

Comment It starts and ends with a game (Score 1) 172

As someone who's been programming for right around 30 years, more than 20 of it professionally, and has written a number of books along the way, I get asked for advice fairly often. One of the questions I get asked most is a variation on this one... for me, the answer is always the same: WRITE A GAME!

What developers often don't realize is that few programming projects touch on as wide a range of topics and disciplines as games do. Things like data structures, AI, file handling, input processing, obviously graphics and sound, networking sometimes, performance tuning... all of this comes into play in a game to varying degrees and in many forms. Very few things you'll ever program in a professional setting will be as wide-reaching... in fact, in my 20+ years of professional development I can't think of a single thing that has!

Even things like usability and UI design, project planning and many other "soft" skills come into play when you're a one-man show.

The best part about a game project is it can be as challenging as you want and it can grow in complexity over time. Start with a simple Pong clone. That's not too tough. But then, update the code to add more intelligent paddle movement of the computer opponent. Then modify it so you can play against a friend over a network. Then change it to a 3D view. And so on and so forth. Each step of the way increases the challenge and also the learning.

Plus, of course, being a game that you're making, it tends to be FUN! Both in developing and testing. It also tends to be very demonstrative in terms of progress... you can SEE what's being produced and little changes in the code can make a big difference on the screen, which makes you feel pretty good and that in turn makes the project continue to be fun to work on, which means more opportunity to learn. Hey, I get paid good money to write financial software all day... I even enjoy it most of the time... but it's nowhere near as gratifying as the game programming I do on my own time!

Game programming is also almost entirely technology-agnostic. There's virtually no language, no platform, no set of new tools or libraries that can't be used to make a game of some sort. That makes it the ideal tool for learning a new set of technologies. Gotta learn HTML/CSS/JavaScript? Write a game! Moving on to Java using Spring and running on Tomcat? A game, sir! Whether you choose a new game concept each time or just keep recycling one (making it a porting exercise, which is a great way to learn a new toolset) it'll work for you.

Also note that you don't need to write the next 3D masterpiece here... in fact, writing a Zork-style text adventure game can be a huge learning exercise on its own, especially if you write a natural language parser (though, again, it's up to you: you can start with a simple keyword analyzer that you can bang out in an hour at most and grow it from there). Graphics and sound are a great learning experience on their own (I can't tell you how much better at math, always a weak subject of mine, I've gotten by working on games!) but they aren't required for a game... though, I've also gotten pretty adept at working in various graphics editors, which definitely has helped me in my day job (I'm still no artist, but I can manipulate existing graphics quite well now, which will make you a more valuable asset as non-graphic artist developer).

Whatever the concept, whatever the toolset, whatever the learning goal, a game is the way to go in my opinion. It's how most of us now old-schoolers got started frankly and it has served us very well over the years. Some of us still write games of course because it's fun and we continue to learn from the experience... and also, especially with the rise of mobile devices, there's an opportunity to make money! Look at some of the recent hit games and it's obvious you don't need to write the next Titanfall to make some good coin. It's a secondary benefit to be sure, but it's nice to know it could be one :)

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