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Comment Re:Do away with them (Score 3, Insightful) 87

Well the answer to your question is that Type.NULL is something that you define yourself or read about in the docs/code if it is coming from a dependency and use instead of NULL.

There are times when having your software lie to you is better than having it do nothing. That's when you use Type.NULL.

There are also times when having the software crash is better than having it lie. That's what NULL is for.

Of course, if you and everyone on your team always writes correct code then it doesn't matter how you encode non-existent values. Your code will neither crash nor lie. The problem is that writing correct code is sometimes hard and often takes a lot of time.

Comment Re:Do away with them (Score 0) 87

And what do you do when something doesn't have a value? A new employee has been hired but you don't know his birthday? Plug in 1900-01-01? And check for that? Nulls serve a purpose.

Pretty much, yeah.

Using Type.NULL instead of NULL lets your code fail partially or quantitatively instead of failing completely. Perhaps the value Date.NULL will suffice for the birth date for most use cases. Perhaps it's okay if your system thinks you're employing a bunch of 116-year olds.

The only fatal flaw with this scheme is that it fails as soon as you introduce inheritance, because Person.NULL != Employee.NULL, even though logically speaking the absence of a Person implies the absence of an Employee.

Comment Re:Update frenzy (Score 0) 67

The flat head nails that your hammer interacts with have an interface that is both sufficiently good and sufficiently difficult to reinvent that even the most creative of people and large of firms have been unable to replace it with something incompatible. (I'm sure Apple will eventually move into the carpentry business and invent a new type of nail that requires a special $59.95 Apple hammer and $4.95 a piece Apple nails. But that hasn't happened yet.)

So in order to make software with longevity you simply need to make sure that your application's components speak with one another and the surrounding world through API:s that are really good and really difficult to reinvent. Like SOAP over HTTP.

Comment Re:Sorry... Not a reused booster... (Score 1) 338

There are flaws in every sufficiently complex piece of technology, and no, you can't just magically find them all by looking Real Hard.

You can find a lot of the ones that are most likely to cause a complete failure.

My understanding is that they could have found last year's problem by doing a sufficient amount of parts testing to verify the numbers on the data sheets from their suppliers. It would have cost a lot of money to do that, but so does losing a payload and having to suspend launches for months.

Comment Re:Sorry... Not a reused booster... (Score 0) 338

Yeah, but the presence of two flaws (the faulty strut last year and now this unknown flaw) indicate that there could be many more lurking in the design of the Falcon 9. SpaceX is going to want to go hunting for flaws everywhere in the design before they fly the F9 again.

Imagine how much market confidence SpaceX would lose if there were to be a third explosion within the next couple of years.

Comment Re:Failure on the *pad* not the rocket (Score 1) 338

SpaceX states that it blew up in preparation for the static fire test.

Looks like an inherent problem with the rocket or the procedures leading up to the static test, which I assume are basically the same as those leading up to launch.

I'm afraid that this will set SpaceX back by months while they figure out what's wrong with their systems and procedures. Well, unexpected setbacks are to be expected in the space industry.

Comment Re:NASA Spaceflight forums (Score 1) 532

We're almost past the point of whether or not it works and moving onto why it works.

Yeah. Don't get your hopes up.

Based on many, many prior instances of machines with measurable effects just above experimental noise, that point of 'almost but not quite' being able to demonstrate that it works is where the EmDrive will remain.

The combination of a tiny effect size (or signal to noise ratio) a lack of a prior theoretical predictions is a huge warning sign. New exciting science usually comes either with a strong unexpected effect size or with a prior theoretical prediction.

Comment Re:Simple or disposable apps (Score 1) 163

Yes, but it may turn out that a large percentage of companies have needs that overlap. I think it's safe to say that wrapping databases in UI is not going to keep being a $100k+ skill for much longer.

Nobody cares if it'll last for decades. Most apps are not expected to deliver useful value at all by the people who order them. It's really only after the app has proven to be useful and profitable that the suits begin to think about longevity and scalability.

Now, repairing poorly made applications... That's going to keep being lucrative for decades to come, or at least until the government gets sick of poorly made applications and decides to impose 'building codes' for software.

Comment Re:Good. (Score 1) 146

Google is focusing a lot now on the "next 5 billion", which I guess is basically people in households that make $2000-20000 a year.

You can easily see how having a smartphone with multiple user accounts coupled with a cheap wireless keyboard and a cheap monitor could make a big difference for a family in that income range.

Comment Re: cupertino a go go. (Score 1) 304

With solid state storage you can cram in effectively arbitrarily large amounts of storage in a tiny amount of space, so that will not be a problem with a thinner laptop. But it doesn't matter. Battery capacity will be lower, which means it won't be a professional laptop, which means it won't really need terrabytes of storage.

It sounds like the next MacBook Pro will basically be a better and slightly larger MacBook Air. That could be a smart short-term move by Apple, but it will kill them in the long run when their professional users jump ship and buy computers from Dell.

I'm glad Dell is still serious about building pro segment laptops. Samsung is probably going to want a bigger piece of the action too if Apple moves out of the pro space.

Comment Re:That's not what it says (Score 2) 219

Older people have more patience. They are as unhappy to put up with "shit" as the next guy but they have patience that comes with experience.

It seems to me that one's impatience ought to grow with age. The time that something takes in proportion to your remaining life expectancy grows larger the older you get.

I don't think older people are more patient. I think the patience that old people appear to have is really lower and more realistic expectations.

Comment Re:Stupid bet... (Score 1) 303

50% change of loosing if 2008 was an average year...

It's probably closer to a 51% chance of winning and 49% chance of losing.

A much safer and more scientifically relevant bet would be that the average temperature of the entire 2010's will be at least a half degree Celsius higher than the average temperature of the 1910's.

Comment Re:Software Modularity is a Dream? (Score 1) 117

Blender is a nice name. Inkscape is a really nice name.

But "GIMP"? WTF?

It is an ill-chosen name for english-speaking users.

Good thing it's free software. It should be fairly simple to do a fork of every major GIMP release that only changes the name and some of the graphics and leaves everything else as-is. It's not like it would be hard to come up with a name and some graphics resources...

I guess the name isn't such a big problem after all.

Comment Re:Smartphone size? (Score 1) 536

I think AR apps and games where you keep your screen on for extended periods of time are going to put an end to the thinner phone trend. At least for a while until they figure out a way to get radically more screen time per unit of energy.

The long term answer to AR usage patters will probably be screens that will switch to a low power reflective mode for use in sunlight and other high ambient light situations.

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