Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×
User Journal

Journal Journal: A return from facebook 5

Hi world,

I'm currently trying out a new behavior trait: "going back to the way it was before." Sounds exciting, huh. Color me Facebook-less since 1.5 months and frankly, this is the first time since I feel the need to actually share something.

My idea was this: what if I would write down and re-visit the steps that lead up to that decision to leave the largest social network in the world? Why? Well, for one thing, I think the idea to go back to earlier practices (such as writing a full blown more than 140 character journal) is going to move slowly back into the center of our collective conscious over the next 5 years. People will start to realize it's the sane thing to do, or so at least that is my guess. But let's look into the dynamics of how I got there.

Many of us remember the so called "browser wars", the epic "os flame-wars", or even further down the burning question wether gnu or unix would be preferable, wether java would be worth it compared to c++, etc.. 30 or 40 years ago, these discussions were of a technical level and nerdism that few can aspire to imagine today. These discussions, much like today, were full of noise, trolls and the occasional insightful remark. These wars were fought in obscure IRC channels and BBS forums, but there was one thing pretty special about them. The technological limits were the only roadblock that stopped our brains from dumping their content in 7 or 8 bit streams that could be shared and read by our fellow peers and friends (and foes). After the browser war came the Napster incident, the BearShare and KaZaa incidents and many systems that predate our current torrent / tor p2p sharing infrastructure. Curiously, I never read about social network wars, which of course also happened. A quick look at the Wikipedia page shows a whopping 208 unique social network websites that attempt to capture our attention, every day life, pictures, personal data, emotions, furniture, love for smiling shit and everything else in between. Not every single one of them survived of course. Who remembers Myspace? Bolt? MS LiveSpaces? or Hyves? So yeah there were wars, but the concept of war was never prominently played, things just "evolved".

So there I was in December 2016, pondering if I still needed facebook. I struck me that I had refrained from posting personal things. In fact in multiple runs, I had slowly started to remove personal data, simply because it increasingly looked ridiculous. Would you start yelling your city of birth and birthday just about anyone in the street? Your marital status? Would you show all the pictures of all your travels and everything else to complete strangers? Of course not. Sure you can spend endless hours 'managing' all that information. Such fun. So much to re-post, so much 'news' to share.

Until you've had it with the latest policy change. Until you realize you are again indicating people they are sharing fake 'news' or hoaxes. Until you realize all your friends posts start with 'OMG'. Or that you can't include 2 images in one post that blatantly refute each-other, because, hey it's facebook. Until you realize that all posts shared say: "look, this is *really* interesting, but I'm just going to dump it here because I'm tired of pretending my shit is more interesting than yours. eat it or die."

Ego needs a cookie. I did truly post some interesting stuff. Stuff about stock markets that are indicative of how defunct our world is. Stuff from NOAA that says how fucked up our climate has become already. Stuff in research papers that tell something about the very structure of our universe. Stuff about brain functions, important findings on cellular level to fight disease, etc, etc.. Not that very many people ever reacted to 'my' shared crap. At best, people reacted because I reacted to their posts first.

On Januari 1st 2017, I stopped playing that pathetic me-me game, and went back to my previous behavior: I traded facebook with sleep. I read books. I started to play FinalFantasy again. I still check my news channels, but you know what.. somehow I'm getting better at finding new resources, new pointers. And I'm looking at much more meaningful content. See back of this post.

The date is not coincidental. On December 31st 2016, we were out for new-years-eve at my parents-in-law. It was a fairly modest get together with nice food, cozy dinner, and a bit of fireworks on TV. In Belgium and The Netherlands, there is a tradition to watch comedians that recount how they saw the past year, such as Wim Helsen or Michael Van Peel. Comparing them to John Stewart / Daily Show would do neither party any favors, but in my book they're equally good. In fact they're all best in their class.

While the evening shot past mid-night, we all wished each-other happy new year and stayed up for a while until the inevitable sleep and early morning came around. Nothing very shocking, but little did we know that at that very same time, somebody had cracked open the front door of our house and was going through all our possessions, stealing laptops, cameras, my bike I use daily with mounted child-seat, golden jewelry, and possibly other stuff, making a huge mess in the process. We were literally 100km south.

We arrived home at 7PM, found some people in front of our house gesturing at the break-in. After the initial shock, my cool kicks in. The first thing to do was to verify the house, call the police and go through the whole procedure. Yes, it's nerve wrecking and sleep-inducing at the same time. Our hope that the police finds the culprit is virtually nil, while at the same time you're supposed to be angry and mad, hopeful and rational. I can't do that emotion very convincingly. I just kept going until everyone was asleep.

When I finally sat down for a few minutes (or hours - the door was badly damaged, so I kept guard the whole night in freezing temperatures) I had time go over all the events. Time gives me oxygen. I'm slow like that, I step on the brakes when I'm going too fast. Given that laptops had been stolen, I decided it was time to change passwords. We still had our phones after all, android, so pretty vulnerable if they could hack into our stuff first. And then it suddenly occurred to me that selling this 'event' in my life on facebook was really the last thing I ever would want to do. Much like all the other important events in my life which I did not share. And so I dropped facebook and Google+ overnight. I'm searching with duckduckgo now. I haven't had a single moment of regret. I sometimes am curious of what is going on there of course, but I imagine it's just the same shit again and again, in different colors.

So what makes me share all this here then, you wonder? Well, all of this is old news, it's also much more digested, no images, no screaming. It's a wall of text full of close to logical long sentences. Those looking for quick fixes will be off running to their click pools after half a paragraph. Those reading this will probably not care and never comment. So who is left? It's me. And that's just fine.

Much in concordance with my earlier post, I pledge for us all to go back to earlier times, pick up things that were loved but lost in the fabric of spacetime. Let's go back and be ace at it. Hello world!

Greets, .i

ps: Forget Trump, check this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEwuGHFF7qE&t=10s&index=1&list=LL4dYPyntjgFh1JxPMFxCOsw

User Journal

Journal Journal: Thoughts on leaving the computer industry. 3

I got my first job writing code right out of high school, working on games for a cable TV company at a startup called Pegasus Systems in Falls Church, Virginia. That was in 1982.

Since that time, every couple of years I've carefully considered what specialty I thought would be most interesting to work in for the near future. In 1982, it was computer graphics. In 1984, it was the Mac. In 1989, it was NeXTSTEP.

I'm a far better coder now than I ever expected to be, and that's due to what I've been able to learn from the incredibly smart people I've worked with in this industry. Seriously, some of those guys are scary smart.

I've worked in businesses ranging from three-man startups to the most valuable company in the world, I've had some great bosses (and smattering of idiots), and learned a lot about management from them.

In my first stint at Apple, I was an engineer in a marketing department, and from what I can see, Apple's marketing is the best in the world, and I'm grateful for what I learned there, too.

So now, I have an opportunity to get into an entirely different line of work, developing technologies that will make a major difference in the amount of energy we all use for heating and cooling. I'm a complete beginner in this field, but once again I've got some brilliant colleagues to show me the ropes. 2017 is going to be an exciting year for me, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Fringe Search

I don't expect anything from this site, this post, or you.

The only thing I offer is a gentle "Hi."

Yes. 2 more years of silence. I'm sure that time brought you various experiences of the short span of time we get to enjoy on this blue sphere, as it did for me. Like solving a giant puzzle game, with the solution running away in ever more dimensions with every step you take. Frustrations, yes, but no regrets, and rewards that warrant the journey.

The finality of the whole is gently setting in on me, which is probably why I came here to say hi. Take a break. It seems I often say hi without any finality involved..

I'm sure some neurons in my head are having a party now, as I'm typing in this old familiar all too often endlessly ranting journal. This is funny. To read my own age-old reflections again, I mean. So comforting.

Re-discover, then re-build once more. Embrace the change ad infinitum.

Wishing you the same, and kindness to all,

Little Darkness / Andr0meda / proud dad / loving husband / mad scientist / code dreamer

User Journal

Journal Journal: FizzBuzz in Swift

The following is my prepared answer for anyone who asks me this stupid fucking question in any interview in the future.

extension Int
  func modBool(modulus: Int) -> Bool
  return (self % modulus).boolValue
for x in 1...100
  print((x.modBool(3) ? "" : "Fuck ") +
    (x.modBool(5) ? "" : "You") +
    ((x.modBool(3) && x.modBool(5)) ? "\(x)" : ""))


User Journal

Journal Journal: Three years after Steve died... 1

I don't think I've written this down anywhere before, so here's my story about the first time I had a face-to-face conversation with Steve Jobs.

I was working for Richard Kerris in Apple Worldwide Developer Relations, on a group called the SWAT team. I was the Cocoa expert on that team, and I had colleagues who had expertise in UNIX internals, Windows development, and the Metrowerks tools.

Our role was to help third-party developers bring their products to Mac OS X, whether they were coming from Windows, Solaris, Mac OS 9, etc. We would look over their code, and consult with them on how to go about porting and/or rewriting their products for the new platform.

I went to Fred Anderson's retirement party which was held at Cafe Macs in Building four of the Infinite Loop campus. I saw Steve there, and I went over to introduce myself. I said "Hi Steve, I'm John Randolph. You may or may not recognize my name, but I used to flame you from time to time before I worked here." He asked me "Why did you stop?" I told him "Well, I work here now, and I respect the chain of command."

At the time we had this conversation, there was a big fight going on between the foot-dragging laggards who wanted to keep using the old Mac Toolbox API (which had been cleaned up considerably and put into a framework we called "Carbon"), and those of us who wanted to get everyone using the NeXTStep-derived "Cocoa" frameworks,

At the previous WWDC, Steve had started the keynote with a bit of theater: a coffin had risen up through a trap door on the stage, in the midst of a cloud of dry ice fog. Steve had opened the coffin to show a big Mac OS 9 box, and he praised OS 9 in a eulogy, to make the point that Apple developers should consider it dead and gone.

So getting back to our conversation.. I told Steve what I was doing on Richard's team, and I said "I know that you can't do this politically, but I wish you could have another coffin on the stage at the next WWDC...." and he said: "With Carbon in it?"

He was grinning. At that point, I realized that I could quit worrying about where Apple's development environment was heading. Steve knew what we needed to do, and in the years that followed, Apple has kept the best of NeXT's technology, and let go of what we didn't need.

We miss you Steve, but we're doing fine. Thanks for the things you made happen.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Circular Refuge on reddit 5

It's a happening place. There are upwards of 3, maybe 4 posts a day!
You should join us, if you like.

(message mods to join; can't let the riffraff on reddit in! Just our very own special riffraff.)

User Journal

Journal Journal: The tragedy of brain-dead apparatchiki entrusted with the care of children. 6

Earlier today, I read an account of a little girl getting a severe sunburn while on a school field trip, because of an unconscionable policy prohibiting children from possessing sunscreen while at school or on school activities. I looked up the name of the spokesman who had the nerve to try to defend this policy to the press, and wrote her the following e-mail:

Miss Chancellor, you and the pinheads you serve in the Northeast Indecent School District are a tragic example of the kind of abject incompetence that pervades American public schools in the past several decades.

I would urge you to resign and pursue employment in the janitorial services industry, but youâ(TM)re obviously too goddamned stupid to be trusted with cleaning supplies.


Well, it would appear that Miss Chancellor was offended by my criticism, and she replied thusly:

Your comments do not warrant an intelligent response. Clearly - you do not have all the facts.

Now, it's rather unusual for an apparatchik in a shitstorm to bother to respond to any of the angry e-mails they get, so naturally I have replied:

On Jun 6, 2014, at 10:26 AM, Chancellor, Aubrey wrote:

>Your comments do not warrant an intelligent response.

Since youâ(TM)re entirely incapable of an intelligent response, that just works out fine and dandy now, doesnâ(TM)t it?

>Clearly - you do not have all the facts.

The fact is that when you screw up like this, the thing to do is apologize and promise the parents, the child, and the rest of the community that it will never happen again. You donâ(TM)t double down on your idiotic policy of depriving children of sunscreen.

When children are entrusted to you by their parents, your paramount duty is to ensure their safety and well being. it is NOT to sacrifice their welfare to your psychotic need for obedience.


More on this as it develops. Start the popcorn.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Throwing in the towel on Facebook. 7

Last post to FB:

In the time since I created this Facebook account in 2006, I found a bunch of old friends, met many new ones, wasted a whole lot of time, had some arguments that never would have happened in real life, and been frequently annoyed by the business decisions FB has made.

This post will be my last. I will delete this account 48 hours from now. Those of you who want to keep in touch can reach me as always at jcr@mac.com, which I've had for at least a decade.

All's well that ends. I wish you all peace, love and happiness.

It feels like leaving high school. There are people there that I will always care about, some that I love, some that I barely know, some that I have no idea how I met in the first place or why they're in my FB friends list.

A very smart friend of mine is working on changing social media from a site and a vendor that sells the users' info to advertisers, into a protocol that would operate on a peer-to-peer basis, with strong security to ensure that what we write goes to those we wish, and no one else. I hope he succeeds, and I look forward to making a fair bit of cash shorting FB when the writing appears on the wall.

  I will thank my friends who worked on FB, and every user there who ever shared a heartwarming, interesting, inspiring, or even outrageous bit of information that I wouldn't have found otherwise. Congrats to all the FB millionaires and worker bees, I wish them all the best.

I'll still be NSResponder here on /., on StackOverflow and Twitter. The internet is still a lot bigger than Facebook, and I'll see you all around.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Dude, where's my comments? 4

Posted a few comments on this Ask Slashdot article yesterday. Come back, and they've disappeared. They've not been deleted - I can still access them, from the recent comments area of my profile - and they've not been downmodded either. Not a Beta issue, as I'm not currently on it.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Annual check in 15

Hey, Slashdot was instrumental in finding Twue Wuv for me, so I couldn't possibly leave it forever. The 14 day comment limit, however, is unfortunate for those of us who stop by only every 6-9 months. :^)

I have read your updates and am interested in your lives and would love to leave a comment expressing as much.

So, hey, Red5, congratulations on the marriage and baby and stuff! And all the other babies that have happened in the past 5 years or so for everybody else! And marriages! And diplomas! And new jobs! And sorry/congrats about the divorces!

User Journal

Journal Journal: When Did 'Beta' Become A Dirty Word On /. ? 5

Just spotted that people are stuffing comments into various stories here for the sole purpose of complaining about the /. Beta.

Maybe it's because I only occasionally visit here, but are people really that hung up on the current design?

Hell, I can remember when /. didn't even bother with any testing, period, just shoved changes straight onto the production servers. Fun times. (Not)

Having looked at the Beta, it seems to me a damn sight cleaner that some news sites I can think of*. Ok, the comment view controls could use some refining, but that's the whole point of beta-testing, right?

(*I still have nightmares about pre-2000s ZDNet. Makes the current design look almost pleasant by comparison.)

User Journal

Journal Journal: I'm depressed and I need a hug

Had a failed date yesterday....

it's so sad...

I just want to find a girl who would love me. It's not fair that's it's so hard. :(

User Journal

Journal Journal: Continuation on education 13

Ok, I need to expand a bit on my excessively long post on education some time back.

The first thing I am going to clarify is streaming. This is not merely distinction by speed, which is the normal (and therefore wrong) approach. You have to distinguish by the nature of the flows. In practice, this means distinguishing by creativity (since creative people learn differently than uncreative people).

It is also not sufficient to divide by fast/medium/slow. The idea is that differences in mind create turbulence (a very useful thing to have in contexts other than the classroom). For speed, this is easy - normal +/- 0.25 standard deviations for the central band (ie: everyone essentially average), plus two additional bands on either side, making five in total.

Classes should hold around 10 students, so you have lots of different classes for average, fewer for the band's either side, and perhaps only one for the outer bands. This solves a lot of timetabling issues, as classes in the same band are going to be interchangeable as far as subject matter is concerned. (This means you can weave in and out of the creative streams as needed.)

Creativity can be ranked, but not quantified. I'd simply create three pools of students, with the most creative in one pool and the least in a second. It's about the best you can do. The size of the pools? Well, you can't obtain zero gradient, and variations in thinking style can be very useful in the classroom. 50% in the middle group, 25% in each of the outliers.

So you've 15 different streams in total. Assume creativity and speed are normally distributed and that the outermost speed streams contain one class of 10 each. Start with speed for simplicity I'll forgo the calculations and guess that the upper/lower middle bands would then have nine classes of 10 each and that the central band will hold 180 classes of 10.

That means you've 2000 students, of whom the assumption is 1000 are averagely creative, 500 are exceptional and 500 are, well, not really. Ok, because creativity and speed are independent variables, we have to have more classes in the outermost band - in fact, we'd need four of them, which means we have to go to 8000 students.

These students get placed in one of 808 possible classes per subject per year. Yes, 808 distinct classes. Assuming 6 teaching hours per day x 5 days, making 30 available hours, which means you can have no fewer than 27 simultaneous classes per year. That's 513 classrooms in total, fully occupied in every timeslot, and we're looking at just one subject. Assuming 8 subjects per year on average, that goes up to 4104. Rooms need maintenance and you also need spares in case of problems. So, triple it, giving 12312 rooms required. We're now looking at serious real estate, but there are larger schools than that today. This isn't impossible.

The 8000 students is per year, as noted earlier. And since years won't align, you're going to need to go from first year of pre/playschool to final year of an undergraduate degree. That's a whole lotta years. 19 of them, including industrial placement. 152,000 students in total. About a quarter of the total student population in the Greater Manchester area.

The design would be a nightmare with a layout from hell to minimize conflict due to intellectual peers not always being age peers, and neither necessarily being perceptual peers, and yet the layout also has to minimize the distance walked. Due to the lack of wormholes and non-simply-connected topologies, this isn't trivial. A person at one extreme corner of the two dimensional spectrum in one subject might be at the other extreme corner in another. From each class, there will be 15 vectors to the next one.

But you can't minimize per journey. Because there will be multiple interchangeable classes, each of which will produce 15 further vectors, you have to minimize per day, per student. Certain changes impact other vectors, certain vector values will be impossible, and so on. Multivariable systems with permutation constraints. That is hellish optimization, but it is possible.

It might actually be necessary to make the university a full research/teaching university of the sort found a lot in England. There is no possible way such a school could finance itself off fees, but research/development, publishing and other long-term income might help. Ideally, the productivity would pay for the school. The bigger multinationals post profits in excess of 2 billion a year, which is how much this school would cost.

Pumping all the profits into a school in the hope that the 10 uber creative geniuses you produce each year, every year, can produce enough new products and enough new patents to guarantee the system can be sustained... It would be a huge gamble, it would probably fail, but what a wild ride it would be!

User Journal

Journal Journal: I am a masochist 5

I'm a masochist. No, not of the sexual variety. Of the slashdot variety. For some reason, not only do I still continue to read this site, I click on links to stories about cars and phones. The raging stupidity and arrogance is amazing.

And yet I come back.

Slashdot Top Deals

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur