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Comment In today's world - yes (Score 1) 387

When you go to the car mechanic to get your car fixed, you've got some idea of what it will cost. It may bot be a good one, but its an estimate that you've got in your head. Maybe a $300 part and two hours labor at $100/hour or whatever insane rate they charge, so $400 to $600.

Today's world is becoming more and more with someone working with a programmer.

It may be as programmer themselves (and anyone who been on the searching for a good applicant side of an interview knows its hard to find good programmers) - we need more programmers more than we need another person working at Mc Donald's. Certainly, not everyone can be a professional programmer, but I'm sure there's a lot falling through the cracks of society never realizing that they want to be a professional programmer (or for that matter, can).

It may also be someone hiring someone to do a job. A small business person hiring someone to write a front end to a database for a CRM, or website, or whatever. Look on eLance some time and glance at the estimates that people have - "I want a Facebook clone in 2 weeks for $500." Try not to laugh too hard. They are out there asking for such absurdities. Thats almost like going to the mechanic and expecting that part to cost $0.50 and the person to work at $5/h... um, no.

By having an idea of what can be done, and an inkling of an idea we get clients and managers that aren't going to want *everything* done today. Well, they will still want it, but when you tell them the actual price and timeline, they'll maybe not think that we're trying to rip them off (while we sit back and click on webcomics and write our own Facebook clone all day... or at least thats what they think we do).

There's also the aspect of people becoming a bit more literate in computing itself. They'll hopefully have an idea of what a computer can and can't do. No, cookies aren't stealing your information - the key logger that you installed with that game you downloaded is. The cloud is not affected by the weather. So on and so forth...

Looking at the number of people who have interactions with computers today compared to 20 years ago, I suspect that more people work with computers in one way shape or form than their own oven... unless its a microwave oven, with an embedded... oh yea. Computer literacy and basic ability to write a program is almost as important as regular literacy and being able to write an essay. It doesn't mean everyone will do it every day, but its becoming basic life skills in today's world.

Submission + - Scientists Are Cracking the Primordial Soup Mystery (vice.com) 1

derekmead writes: Scientists have had a basic understanding of how life first popped up on Earth for a while. The so-called "primordial soup" was sitting around, stagnant but containing the basic building blocks of life. Then magic happened and we ended up with life. It's that "magic" that has been the sticking point for scientists, but new research from a team of scientists at the University of Leeds has started to shed light on the mystery, explaining just how objects from space might have kindled the reaction that sparked life on Earth.

It's generally accepted that space rocks played an important role in life's genesis on Earth. Meteorites bombarding the planet early in its history delivered some of the necessary materials for life but none brought life as we know it. How inanimate rocks transformed into the building blocks of life has been a mystery.

But this latest research suggests an answer. If meteorites containing phosphorus landed in the hot, acidic pools that surrounded young volcanoes on the early Earth, there could have been a reaction that produced a chemical similar one that's found in all living cells and is vital in producing the energy that makes something alive.

Comment Value: maintain, don't decrease, increase. (Score 1) 372

I've got my own house and I was thinking of all the neat tech stuff I could do in it. A custom thermostat system and other home automation type things... a handheld (ipod touch, andorid, what have you with custom software) instead of switches and the like in each room.

Then I realized what this would do to the value of the house. All the software would be written by me. This would mean that any buyer would either: a) rip it out because they don't understand it and need to replace it (thus lowering the value of the house) or b) need to do a code audit on everything I wrote to avoid any back doors (costing money and thus lowering the value of the house) and possibly c) be calling me for support when something breaks.

Me putting in the time and money to do such a level of home automation would ultimately make the house worth significantly less. And thus I came up with the order of things that are done in the house: Maintain the current value of the house (if there is something that needs to be done that is otherwise causing the value of the house to decrease (leaky basement walls) do that). Don't do anything that will decrease the value of the house (crazy personalized custom stuff that only has value to me is out). Increase the value of the house - a standard zone system with a Nest in each room is cheaper, likely more efficient, and improves the value of the house over a custom system.

So unless you are never thinking of selling this house in your lifetime, avoid doing anything crazy customized to you unless you are going to accept that ultimately another buyer is going to rip it out and replace it - and factor in the ripping it out and replacing it into the resale value. Not everyone out there is a geek.

Comment Re:swift, distant and anonymous (Score 1) 892

In Dread Empire's Fall series, this is handled by having a pilot in a small ship that stays within a few light seconds of the missiles (AI was one of the things that the Shaa prohibited). The idea being that an antimatter missile (the prime weapon of the series) will take out a ship no matter how big. Part of the interesting bit of this series is that aside from infrastructure and wormholes - the tech used is imaginable (slingshots around gravity wells, having to burn in the other direction to slow down rather than magically stoping).

(not exactly related to the issue, bug a good series nonetheless)
In the Star Carrier series, small manned ships were the primary thing, accelerating to near C and then releasing a kinetic slug just before decelerating. One technique employed was launching what was intended to be anti-missile 'sand' in a wide dispersion (again, at near C) which took out a number of large ships and crippled the rest. The physics of this series is a bit more out there (makes use of the Alcubierre drive and highly advanced physics to accelerate to near C within a few minutes).

Comment Re:This is revisionist history at its worst. (Score 1) 392

Hypercard didn't have any access natively to the serial port or similar interfaces. To do this, one had to write an XCMD (wow, Dr Dobbs has a good archive) resource in pascal or C (or possibly assembly) to talk to the low level system/hardware. This created an additional command / function that Hypercard could call. To an extent, this did cause some fragmentation of the language

Looking at an old archive at umich, you can get an idea of what these xcmds could do.

To do anything beyond the basic capability of Hypertalk, it required you to be able to go in with resedit, download (or write) and add the appropriate additional functionality. This was a tool that was part of a programmer's toolkit - not a user's.

Comment Re:Axis of Evil (Score 1) 105

Syria has been under trade embargo since October 29th, 1991 as specified in Amendment to ITAR 126.1. The appears to apply to the Arms Export Control and include Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and North Korea. The key thing is the 'arms export'. This appears to cover defense articles and defense services - not regular commercial items. Strong encryption is classified as a munition. If the Syrian app store doesn't use strong encryption algorithms for its drm or the sdk, one would presume that developer licenses and app store would be allowed.

Comment Re:You still need iPhone 4S (Score 1) 403

With iOS 5, the unique identifier is a combination of app/device - not just device. See Apple Insider for a change with the UDID.

Deprecated in iOS 5.0
uniqueIdentifier An alphanumeric string unique to each device based on various hardware details. (read-only) (Deprecated in iOS 5.0. Instead, create a unique identifier specific to your app.)

It is possible (necessary?), that Apple retains private APIs to be able access this and does so with their applications - while the game that you propose writing wouldn't be able to access the UDID. If you want to do so, do so rapidly and hope your app doesn't get rejected.

Comment Re:It'd be nice if ... (Score 2) 201

Pardon me, but are you serious? Claiming that code is clean (or correct) because it compiles to a small executable isn't necessarily true. The demo scene prides itself on small executables and optimizes for this. Such optimizations are rarely the product of clean and correct code but rather hand crafted dark compiler (or assembler) magic.

Submission + - In-Vitro Muscle Cells. It's What's For Dinner (reuters.com)

wanzeo writes: Within the last decade, many of us have experienced the encroachment of ethics into our mealtime. Phrases such as vegetarian, vegan, organic, bST, GMO, etc. have become part of common grocery store advertising. The most recent addition to the list of ethically charged food is in-vitro meat, or meat that was cultured in a petri dish, and was never part of a live animal. The project has been brought to fruition by Mark Post, a biologist at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. Grown using animal stem-cells on a nutrient medium, the nearly see-through strips of muscle would need to be stacked nearly 3,000 times to approach the thickness of a burger. The practice promises to be more humane, sustainable, and efficient than conventional meats, with one analysis suggesting it would, "use 35 to 60 percent less energy, emit 80 to 95 percent less greenhouse gas and use around 98 percent less land". In a world where nearly half of all crop production is used to feed livestock, a move towards artificial meat may be inevitable.

Comment The 6,269,361 patent (Score 1) 141

There was an article a couple of years ago that looked into the history of one of the patents. Patent 6,269,361 that covers bid for advertisement placement in search results was developed by a company named Overture. Gates wanted it, but Yahoo bought the company in '03 for $1.63 billion. Microsoft started licensing the patent from Yahoo. There was also a settlement between Google and Yahoo over the patent. This could be the key that Microsoft wants to go after Google's ad words and keep any other competitors out of the market.

Comment Re:Why collect WiFi hotspot data? (Score 1) 318

If you've ever turned on a GPS device that had been off for a long time and/or moved significantly it can take minutes (the key information for GPS is only broadcast every 30 seconds and the satellite data has expired) for it to get a lock on the satellites. http://jeepx.blogspot.com/2006/01/cold-start-and-aided-gps.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_to_first_fix are good reads about the issue. The short version of it is that in order to determine which satellites are there to listen to quickly, you need approximate information about the time and location of the receiver.

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