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Comment Provided the prediction engine is clever... (Score 1) 40

E.g. I type "o-p-e-r"...
Browser immediately opens "Download Google Chrome"* page.

*or other browser of your choice provided it doesn't have a mouth-frothingly insane "speculatively download and render potential malware" feature... because nobody ever left any security loopholes in any code ever.

Even the existing not-very-smart-bar feature in most browsers keeps wanting to google "http://mytestwebserver.local" or "192.168.1.254" instead of doing what I obviously want.

Comment Re:NoSQL all the way down (Score 1) 332

Postgres / HSTORE could have probably solved pretty much the entire set of persistence use cases

Hey, but PostgreSQL is buzzword compliant with the new hipness... you want a JSON-based document store?
CREATE TABLE docstore (
docid SERIAL PRIMARY KEY,
userid INTEGER REFERENCES users,
document JSON
);

OK, don't code-review that off-the-cuff doodle too seriously, but implementing NoSQL features in a decent RDBMS is easy, implementing RDBMS features in NoSQL is hard...

Comment All this has happened before, and it will (etc) (Score 2) 332

Wow, ExtJS brought all development to a complete multi year halt. In the first few months ExtJS development is way way way faster than any other framework out there. But after about 6 months all you are doing is fighting with the framework

This is the good old "Rapid Application Development" myth that has been doing the rounds since before many of today's trendy agile NoSQL programmers and the PHBs who encourage them were born. Even with things like Microsoft Foundation Classes and Borland's OWL that were used to create substantial apps, the initial drag-n-drool honeymoon didn't last very long. Then when Multimedia came along there were more "authoring systems" than applications created using authoring systems, and they were all great until you hit the brick wall that the designers had never anticipated, and ended up re-writing from scratch.

"Ooh look, I can create a fully-functioning GUI app by clicking 3 buttons and writing 1 line of code... this is going to save weeks of development"

Six months later: "Ooh, look - I'm wading through the sparsely-commented source code of the framework trying to figure out why I can't get the 'print' method to do anything beyond the trivial case given in the sample project... what's this? '/// TODO - implement print function'...?" (Its too long ago for me to remember the details so I won't name the application framework in question).

Turns out that a couple of days writing the "boilerplate" code for your application paid dividends further down the line...

First example I remember was this: The Last One - yes folks, the last computer program that would ever need to be written, heralded by magazine articles predicting mass unemployment of programmers... but I'll bet you an internet that Ada Lovelace had some brilliant ideas for making the Analytical Engine take all the hard work out of programming...

Put simply: we all know that the last 10% of development takes 90% of the time. RAD tools eliminate the first 10% of the development thus ensuring that the last 10% takes 100% of the time.

Comment Re:Good (Score 2) 49

Making a entire spin-off distro for one single specific application seems like the biggest waste of time and effort to me.

I think that's true now, but back in the day there were very good reasons for Mythbuntu: first, it was used for single-purpose Home Theatre PC "Appliances" - often small-form-factor systems with mediocre resources. MythTV needed X Window, but you didn't want the bloat of a full distro. TV tuners, hardware-assisted video playback, infra-red remote control didn't work straight out of the box on regular distros - you had to at least build and install kernel drivers, if not customise the kernel, then faff around to get it to boot straight to full screen MythTV. Mythbuntu had a lot of this already set up.

Now, things have moved on - the standard distros now typically include all the LinuxTV kernel drivers so well-supported cards are plug'n'play, and the unsupported ones usually rely on binary blobs or customised versions of the LinuxTV stack that can't be distributed with Mythbuntu either. As someone already pointed out, PCIe-based cards that support HD are like hen's teeth (YMMV depending on which standard you use) and the "driver-free" HDHomeRun seems to be cornering the market.

Also, now, any streaming box that can run Kodi or MrMC (XBMC as was) can be a MythTV frontend - a Raspberry Pi works brilliantly, or you can use a FireTV, AppleTV, or Android TV box - so it makes much more sense to run the backend on a server or NAS and keep that noisy spinning rust out of your living room. That cuts out all the frontend/video/remote control setup stuff, at least on the MythTV side. You're probably using the server for other things so you don't want a dedicated distro.

Finally, sadly, MythTV is getting long in the tooth - all the support for analog TV is now redundant, it depends on everything from X.org to MySQL to Apache (if you want the web interface) so its not great for a NAS/Server, and all the tedious X.org GUI configuration screens desperately need ripping out and replacing with web-based versions.

I stopped using the MythTV frontend some time ago, in favor of Kodi on a Raspberry Pi, and I've actually just (tentatively) dumped the backend for TVHeadEnd + HDHomeRun with a MrMC frontend running on a FireTV. TVHeadend is quite a bit less sophisticated when it comes to managing recorded programs (the plus side is that you get a bunch of media files with human-readable names) but, boy, is it easier to set up. I'll see how it works out...

Plex have a PVR app in beta, as do HDHomeRun.

Still, thanks to both the Mythbuntu and MythTV devs for years of service...

Comment Re:That would help logistics too (Score 4, Informative) 159

Except you can't, because some countries use the weird 104-key layout and the rest of the world uses the wonderful 105-key keyboard.

Well, at least they could reduce the number of physically different keyboards to about 3 - ISO, ANSI and JIS - rather than have a different model for every country with suitable key caps.

Also, maybe then we could get a patch to fix the hideous mutated chimera of UK and US layouts that is Apple's current UK keyboard (I mean, how the hell? I'd get it if they'd just taken a US keyboard and changed the "#" label to "£", but they've gone to the trouble of re-shaping the Enter key... and then still just changed the "#" label to "£", missing all the other US/UK differences....)

Comment Nostalgia ain't what it used to be. (Score 1) 370

If you weren't using computers and programming between 1976 and 1984, you probably can't intuitively grasp how things actually were,

Nobody was advertising computers on prime-time TV much, and they certainly weren't advertising big-budget games and online services targeted at the mass market. The kids buying (or pestering their parents into buying) those early "home" computers were the nerds who'd seen them in electronics magazines etc. and read the reviews (which, at the time, used half of their column-inches to discuss how good they were for programming). Sure, there were kids who couldn't have a home computer because their family couldn't afford one, or because the Commodore PET at the orphanage had been stolen to pay for drugs... but at the time there were many, many kids who could have had a computer, if they'd made it a priority, but didn't because they weren't remotely interested in computers and Facebook hadn't been invented yet.

I got one mainly because I'd been hooked on programmable calculators and wanted to take the next step. To afford it, I flogged virtually every half-decent, non-essential possession I had (not claiming too much hardship here - at least I had the stuff to sell - point is it didn't just magically appear after a hint to Mum & Dad). Oh, and as for that "BASIC programming book" it was missing from the set of photocopied manuals I got with my Superboard II so I had to suss it out from a couple of examples, a list of keywords and a couple of pages of "Illustrating BASIC" serialised in a magazine that I had a couple of copies of (I did eventually find a copy of Kenemy & Kurtz in the school library - god knows how it got there - and that was a brilliant book). When you wrote programs you saved them to cassette tape and crossed your fingers. "Editing" code mainly consisted of completely re-typing the line you wanted to change - maybe your system had some sort of kludgey "line editor" to help. Later on, you got to save up money for things like an assembler, decent text editor, FORTH, Pascal and eventually C - the latter two being complete non-starters unless you had a floppy drive (which, at the time, cost more than the rest of the computer).

In short, not many kids in the late 70s or early 80s stumbled into programming because they stumbled onto something called BASIC on this box that they'd been given to play games on (not that you'd get a 1980 personal computer purely on the strength of a game of "Star Trek", "Hunt The Wampus" or a Scott Adams text adventure). Later, maybe, when the first generation of kids had written some games for them to play, but not then.

I remember, circa 1981, "acquiring" a copy of a new game that had (for the time) a massive advertising campaign consisting of quarter page adverts in colour in a computing magazine... it was a huge inspiration on the grounds that, (a) it was pretty crap, and (b) if they were prepared to publish that crap, they might publish my crap. So I threw together my own crappy game in a weekend and, sure enough, a few weeks later I was published and slightly richer: Never got to join the ranks of those teenage computer game millionaires who learned to drive in Ferraris, but I did stretch to a 70cc scooter. There were plenty of opportunities for anybody who could do simple programming at the time, and even those of us who didn't join the lucky few who hit the jackpot could, with a bit of application, make useful money. Certainly, my first computer was the last time I had to rely on the Bank of Mum & Dad for stuff I wanted.

Fast forward to today: if you care to look that "basic-free" Mac actually comes with Python, Perl, PHP, Ruby and bash scripting as standard. The browser has Javascript built-in. For a free download you can get XCode with C, C++, Objective C and Swift, along with a complete IDE - including the "Swift Playgrounds" that Apple have been working on specifically to provide an "instant gratification" tool for learners. All the documentation and tutorials you can eat are available free online. A Windows PC is, arguably, not quite so loaded out-of-the-box but offers similar opportunities. Heck, you can even download BBC Basic for your phone... Oh, and the kit costs the same number of dollars as it did in 1981, if not less, despite (a) inflation and (b) the kit being several orders of magnitude more powerful.

Any kid who is genuinely interested in programming will put in the minimal effort to find the huge wealth of resources available today - far beyond what we could dream of in the 80s. ...however, they're unlikely to knock out a crappy computer game in a weekend and make instant money, or secure a well-paid job on the basis of 6 months of self-taught BASIC skills. Oh, you can write apps and, once in a while, someone will pull a "Flappy Bird" and go viral - but the odds of that are up there with winning the lottery (NB: I don't think Minecraft was a weekend job).

TLDNR: there is no problem with the availability of programming resources, and if kids can't find them then they're probably not motivated to learn coding - plus, we're not living in the 80s with a fledgling IT industry incubating in garages offering endless opportunities to self-taught programmers.

Comment Re:Elon Musk was high as shit in that interview... (Score 1) 1042

Do you know how hard it is to keep exponential growth going for any length of time?

Hang on - I thought that the end of the world was nigh because, if humanity were destined to expand exponentially for the next 1000 years, there would be so many trillions of people living in the future that the odds of us "finding ourself" amongst the few billion humans alive today would be negligibly small... I'm confused - which bit of pseudo-statistics attempting to extrapolate an unfalsifiable claim from a single data point should I believe?

If you extrapolate from zero data, the logic may appear valid but the uncertainty of the conclusion is infinite.

I suggest that Musk has SpaceX send an expedition to the far side of the sun to look for that bloody teapot - the chances that the designers of his simulation didn't add an easter egg are truly negligible and that would be an obvious choice...

Meanwhile - when is someone going to arrest all of these so-called "lottery winners"? Everybody knows that the odds of you winning the lottery jackpot are as near to zero as makes no difference, so these people claiming to have won millions are clearly liars and any big houses, yachts and sports cars they posses must be stolen.

Comment Re:Is anyone else (Score 1) 497

They were scientists, he is a huckster.

...for a huckster, he's put a remarkable number of actual satellites in actual orbit, not to mention nearly cracking the booster recovery problem. Now, I know that's not exactly rocket science... oh, hang on, yes it is.

I guess he has scientists on the payroll to do the math while he drums up the money: or has he ever claimed he designs all the rockets himself?

True, the guy has a reality distortion field of 2.83 Jobs but, then, Apple ended up pioneering (which isn't the same as inventing) half of the worthwhile things in the modern personal computer industry without Steve knowing which end of a soldering iron was hot.

Comment Re:No return trips? (Score 1) 497

That's the problem. They are cutting corners to make their flying death trap cheap. That will get people killed.

They're not flying people, yet. Meanwhile, customers get their satellites and ISS supplies launched cheaply in return for a slightly higher risk of loss, while SpaceX get paid to beta test their rockets.

If their failure rate doesn't drop with time & experience, they will have a problem - but its early days yet. Meanwhile, NASA have been talking about recovering boosters for 40 years, SpaceX have done it.

Ok, yeah, the Mars trip looks like its missing a few details so far, but they're not selling tickets just yet.

Comment Re:Java is not C-based (Score 1) 401

The only thing that is relatively C-like in Java is the syntax

...and if you take that as the definition of "C-based" then every language mentioned in TFS is "C-based" apart from Python. Silly article.

Also silly because the hard bit of learning a new "language" is not the language per se (all the languages discussed are multi-paradigm with a procedural/OO slant - no Lisp/Smalltalk/Haskell in that list) but the framework(s) and APIs associated with a new platform (which is usually why you are switching language).

Comment Re:A real comparison? (Score 1) 286

Replacing a battery isn't cheap but it is a very very straightforward thing. Unlike replacing an engine, which your transmission isn't engineered for.

What pile-of-shit ICE cars are people buying that need new engines/gearboxes/clutches every few years? Are you using a time machine to go back to the 1970s and buy the lemons they made then? Or are you basing your experience on cars that were already 8 years old when you bought them?...and on what planet are Teslas etc. zero maintenance?

My last car survived 12 years or so of my less-than-tender care & imperfect clutch-work (whats this I hear about oil changes?) and was running perfectly when I got rid of it (but someone re-modelled the rear and it wasn't worth fixing). One before that got so old that things like door catches were breaking (a more can-do mechanical person than me would have got another 5 years out of it). Before that: 2CVs with indestructible mechanics (and only slight tendency to explode) but, sadly, water-soluble bodywork. Current car 6 years old and nary more than an oil change. OK, so my gran used 3 packets of anecdotal evidence every day and she lived to be 96, but I don't get the impression that my experience is that unusual.

Most of my maintenance bills have been for tyres, wipers, windscreen chips, Air Con recharges etc. Last time I looked, EVs have all of those. I'll give you that an EV with regenerative braking probably goes through less brake pads. I'm sure Ludicrous Mode takes its toll on the tyres, though...

Comment Re:Sounds like author hasn't been sick enough (Score 1) 294

You should try a UK NHS hospital. You'd be lucky if you got a room alone - oh wait, you wouldn't, because you do get such a room when they think you are about to die.

Or they just think you might have norovirus.

My experience is that they are like floodlit madhouses, 27/7.

But if you ask nicely they'll usually give you some sleeping pills...

Actually, after personal experience of both, I've come round to firmly believing in shared wards. The single room wasn't because of imminent check-out (unless there was something they weren't telling me) - just the temporary luck of the draw. Single rooms give you altogether too much time to feel sorry for yourself, whereas on an open ward you have endless distractions and there is almost guaranteed to be someone who has it far worse than you, to put your woes into perspective (in one case, I even got to press the emergency buzzer for a nurse who collapsed on the job). Worse case, if you really are the worse-off person in the room, then you can enjoy your self-pity with the warm glow of vindication.

Turning off equipment because the lights are annoying you is probably a bad idea, though.

Comment Re:Slow news day? (Score 4, Insightful) 294

So, it has come to this. An article on Slashdot about covering up blinking lights.

Blinking lights were great before some bright spark invented those bloody ultra-bright blue and white LEDs and electrical equipment designers started indulging their fantasies of making their devices look like the mothership in Close Encounters, right down to the sunburn. Meanwhile, us slashdotters are getting older and starting to feel the effects of decades of staring at flickery screens...

Seriously guys, if the status light is casting visible shadows then its just out-and-out sloppy design. I've even had this on a HP monitor: ridiculous dazzling blue power light on the front of a monitor, with option to disable the light (so obviously people have complained) ...meaning you can't tell if the monitor is switched on at all.

And, yeah, I thank god for those little stand-up cards in hotel rooms saying "Here at PlasticHotelCorp we passionately believe that inane motivational slogans are a great substitute for actual quality" which are ideal for standing in front of the various TVs, clocks and other power lights opposite the bed.

Comment Re:well... (Score 1) 148

Using a dictionary and 2-3-4-5 word phrases is much more useful.

If you really must, use "Correct%Horse$Battery#Staple" and just put "%$#" on the post-it stuck to your keyboard - but XKCD is basically correct - we're telling people to use Pa55w0rdZ that are easy for machines to crack and difficult for humans to remember (and generate).

Can't passwords just die? When you only had a couple of passwords and "fludbunk37" was sufficiently strong they were fine, but now I've got dozens of passwords like "UoFytNd7vB9qqK". Now- since I'm completely reliant on my computer to remember my passwords - why, when I create an account, can't I just paste in a public key and subsequently log in via challenge/response like I can do with SSH?

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