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Comment Best place to spend a few weeks. (Score 5, Interesting) 269

I do feel for the poor chaps who must do it, but personally, I do this _every_ chance I get. Longest was about 2 weeks. I actually prefer capsules to conventional hotels: nice long saunas, a chance to meet and hang out with interesting people (rather than holing up in a room), it forces you to stay out (again, so you don't stay holed in), and you can't beat the price: $25-$35 a night, right in the middle of all the action.

You could also do pretty much the same at Internet Cafes. I've found the accommodation (couch+cubicle+snacks+internet+manga+games) to be far better than even most first-class flight cabins. You still need your everyday clothes on, so I'd stay there max 2 days.

Tip: best way to visit Japan: travel very light. Buy shaving supplies, soap, t-shirts, etc. at the local combini or 99 yen store. Instead of spend money at a single hotel, spend it traveling to different parts of the country: danjiri festival here, live music there, temple over there, robots over there, party over here. All without luggage to slow you down.

Comment Try (sewing circuits & ipod remo (Score 1) 368

For a unique spin on beginning electronics. It's a very different medium from traditional science kits, but your kids can make usable, wearable electronics while learning about circuits. With the kits, you can sew a simple circuit to a shirt/hat/jacket using conductive thread and a tiny LED (perhaps for the 9-year old). You could also make a small felt accessory to control your iPod. There are a variety of kits, from really easy, to a bit involved.

Tell them I sent you :-)

Comment Publish, don't patent (Score 3, Interesting) 266

The following assumes this is a hardware patent you have in mind.

The days of patenting for the lone inventor are over, seriously. And what if you do patent it? You'll end up spend the bulk of your time, brain power, and meager resources defending it. Unless you have the resources to hire a cadre of lawyers, you won't even be able to defend infringements. And we've not even discussed international patents... which still won't stop Chinese knockoffs (at least not for the foreseeable future).

For insights into why the patent process is seldom useful for individuals:

There is a lot of money being made in the (e.g.) open-hardware arena: you make a gadget (brilliant idea or not), sell a couple hundred or thousand, make some money and move on to the next thing (see Arduino, Chumby, SeeedStudio, Adafruit, Sparkfun). These guys publish the specs of pretty much everything they make, with enough detail that anybody else could copy it. Yet they are rather successful for small (closely held) businesses.

So my advice is:
Step 1: make
Step 2: publish (gets you publicity for your gadget BTW)
Step 3: open up a store front and sell
Step 4: ??? (there is no step 4)
Step 5: Profit!!!

It's easy to get anything manufactured in small quantities these days. And by the time somebody bothers to clone your idea (which kind proves that you must have made money, in a backhanded compliment kind of way), the hope is you've made some cash, and can spend your time innovating on the next great thing.

This is the secret to happiness my friend.

Comment Sigh... please include _my_ pet project too. (Score 2, Insightful) 464

Let me preface this tirade with a disclaimer: Yes, I realize Microsoft is a huge company, with enough resources and market share to constitute a monopoly, and is therefore deserving of governments' watchful eyes. I also realize that IE may not be the highest quality browser out there; and that Microsoft has been known to 'embrace and extinguish'. I'm also glad that Microsoft didn't get to design (for instance) the IMAP RFC. Please note I'm not making any _legal_ arguments, just "history-of-OS" type arguments.

HOWEVER, this knee-jerk reaction to the browser-wars is really fundamentally flawed. My argument is what we, the user, perceive as an operating system changes and grows over time. I think it's time we realize that a music jukebox, dvd player, web browser, and text editor have become integral parts of an OS (per my definition). I think it is in the same manner as a command shell, file browser (cd & ls), calendar, chat client, windowing system, network stack, etc. have become what we'd consider part of an OS.

Some companies and organizations are clamoring for inclusion of their pet projects by default... I say "rubbish. You might as well ask the user to choose different versions of the TCP stack, paint program, image libraries, and mouse drivers too." I can't make any analogies to car makers, nor do I care to. We can argue about "stifling innovation and choice" until we're blue in the face, but I still insist that a web browser is integral to the operating system. Go and get alternatives if you like, just as you're free to get another media player, paint program or ftp client.

I don't see noise directed against Apple or Linux or BSD, likely because they are {not monopolies | high enough in market share | something else that I can't grok}. This would suggest that the bundling of Safari on Mac, or Mozilla on Linux is not fundamentally wrong, and is also not wrong on Windows. I'm sure there are good arguments for the EU poking its nose, but since they're so caring, they should also ask nicely that MS provide users with choice of desktop clock widgets so that the poor makers of clock software aren't left out.

Perhaps this is unfair to the hapless (as far as tech goes) politicians, but they seem little more than shills for lobbyists, and don't seem to really understand the dangerous precedent they might be setting. That, I find really irritating.

Comment Re:Wrong question (Score 4, Interesting) 289

Wha....? Are you seriously suggesting that applications/utilities need to be patched to deal with faulty (yes, faulty) filesystem semantics? For _every_ single filesystem they might encounter? The whole point behind a filesystem layer is to present a unified view of files to the user layer regardless of physical media or driver quirks.

The point is really that ext4 is/was broken, and IMO, any filesystem requiring patches to applications in order not to lose data is no filesystem at all. It's unbelievable (despite the technical benefits of ext4) that this would even be up for consideration.

Comment Re:No - there are plenty of safer alternatives (Score 1) 486

int len = N;
void *ptr = malloc( len ); ...

len *= 2;
ptr = realloc (ptr, len);

that's one way to deal with dynamic input... but as the parent was saying, you should keep track of len as you memmov, memcpy. I don't think anyone was suggesting static char ptr[N] as the solution for dynamic memory requirements. OTOH If you could guarantee that you'd never attempt to buffer more than N bytes (regardless of how large/varied/dynamic) the input is, then this also works.

The point is: if you're going to use a glorified assembler, you'd better keep track of where you're poking and peeking.

Comment Oops... sorry, you fail. (Score 2, Informative) 281

A popup. How lame, lazy, and dangerous: (I realize it's an optional setting)

- First, it's NOT undo... this is a delay tactic. A real undo would have the system hold the mail in your "outbox" for a user customizable time, from where you can snatch it, but only when you need to.

- Second, you now have to wait, EVERY time you send an email. Because "email regret" happens only now and then, it's likely to get turned off. Back to square one.

- Third, if there ever was a "Send now" button, you'll get so customized to pressing it, that you're again back to square one.

I appreciate the effort, but this gets an F. Please, head back to the labs, make something really sensible (i.e. not lame), and try again.

Comment Re:Lol (don't laugh so hard) (Score 2, Insightful) 936

I consider myself well versed at the techie stuff (EE & CS major, unix user since '94, non-public Linux kernel hacker for ppc). Personally, I use LFS (yes, I compile/bootstrap everything and put it in its own place, _myself_), but I agree that apt-get is a pain in the ass. I appreciate all the effort that's gone into package management, but I can't say that it is trivial to install/upgrade a package using this command.

Problems include:
- hunting down all the (often non-obvious) package names
- dependencies
- integrity checks
- conflicts with other (new, old, default, broken) packages

Automated system installation is a tough nut to crack, considering the millions of packages out there, and apt-get has come a long way towards solving it... but it's still not where it should be in terms of ease. If we can accept that, then we can continue to improve the situation, not snigger at "clueless newbies."

Comment The browser _IS_ part of the OS experience (Score 1) 650

What next? Force microsoft to unbundle the file explorer? Or notepad? Or the filesystem? Or the clock widget? Or the process scheduler? Or the tcp/ip stack? Or the sound driver? Or wmv player? In the evolution of "operating systems" over the past 30 years we have seen an increasing number of programs included in what can be considered to be part of the OS. Is "ls" part of the OS? What about ping, vi and ftp? ssh is more recent than sendmail, so some of you might think to draw the line there. Is lynx part of the OS? What about X11?

The graphical web browser is seen as such a contentious point now, but 10 years hence it will be considered "core" and integral, just as "ls" or "dir" or sockets or sound are today. To ignore the patterns of history is short sighted at best. Monopoly or not, I want a complete operating system, and it's unhelful to force me to choose from competing browsers, file managers, music players, editors, filesystems, clocks, sound drivers, system preference panels, or tcp/ip implementations.
I think this is a misguided and distracting effort from the EU, and the future of computing will thank thank them for butting out.

OS enthusiast, I enjoy unix vms dos scheme c assembler lynx ie vi emacs gui cli notepad wmaker kde xfce windows metal rap. Agnostic enough to see that the brouhaha over web browser choice is just muscle flexing, and truly unhelpful in the long run.

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