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Comment Debbie Does Dallas (Score 2) 125

Back in the 1980s, Regan nominated Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.
Some enterprising reporter located a video rental store near where Bork lived and got the clerk to give him Bork's rental records.
Bork had rented--wait for it--Citizen Kane.

Within a couple of months, congress passed a law making it a federal crime to disclose someone's video rental history.
Because, of course, all those congressmen knew than when their own records turned up in the morning paper, it wasn't going to be Citizen Kane, it was going to be Debbie Does Dallas, part XXIII.

We may be seeing the same thing here.

Comment Re:You missed the point. It's about relativity. (Score 1) 167

I sincerely doubt the UIs are getting worse year after year. If that were the case, we would have unusable devices by now.

Star Trek Actor's Death Inspires Class Action Against Car Manufacturer

Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, was killed Sunday when his own vehicle rolled backwards.

It has recently emerged that his vehicle was a Jeep. As discussed on Slashdot previously consumers are having a hard time knowing if the vehicle is in "Park."

Jeep/Chrysler's New Gearshift Appears To Be Causing Accidents

The new gearshift design for the Jeep Grand Cherokee appears to be causing rollaway accidents: 121 crashes and 30 injuries so far. The gear shifter is designed to look and feel similar to a traditional automatic gear shift lever but it is meant to cycle through the gears rather than move directly to a certain gear. A driver who is used to placing their vehicle in park by pressing the shifter all the way forward may instead be setting it to neutral before exiting the vehicle. The NHTSA is investigating.

I'm going to call this an unusable device.

Comment Insult to injury (Score 1) 73

Couple of years ago, Verizon ran ads in the Boston metro area showing happy shiny pop stars standing in Boston's Copley Plaza (local equivalent of Times Square) and extolling their FiOS service. As it happens, FiOS isn't available in the city of Boston, and--to all appearances--is never going to be.

When the mayor of Boston called them out on this, Verizon responded with some clueless marketing gobbledygook.

Comment Gate tunnelling current (Score 5, Informative) 474

Moore's law had a great run: ~40 years from early 60s to early 00s.
During that time, every generation boosted density, gate count, clock speed, and value per dollar.
The (exponential!) rule of thumb was 2x more every 18 months.

Everyone knew it had stop sometime: you can't make things smaller than atoms.
What finally did stop it (considerably north of atom-scale) was gate tunnelling current.
In a MOS-FET, the gate is separated from the channel by an insulator (SiO2).
As you scale the transistor down, that insulator gets thinner, along with everything else.
When the insulator thickness is less than the wavelength of an electron, you start to get significant tunnelling current.
This acts like short-circuit from the power to ground.

The technology hit the wall around 2003.
Gate tunnelling current was then over half of total power dissipation.
The power density of the CPU chip was 150 W/cm^2 (like a stove top),
and going further was clearly impractical.

As it happens, the clock speed at that design node was 3 GHz,
and that's pretty much were we are today.
Everything since then has been building bigger, not faster: multi-core, caches, SoC;
plus architecture tweaks and optimizations, like pipelining and super-scalar.

It was a great run while it lasted, but it's over,
and we're not getting another one without a fundamental scientific/technological breakthrough,
on the order of coal, or steel, or quantum mechanics.

Comment The shop/home ec. model (Score 1) 142

When I was in 6th grade, we had a semester of shop class and a semester of home economics.
(In previous generations, the boys had a year of shop and the girls had a year of home ec.)
It all seemed kind of hokey: it was clearly a vestige of an earlier time, but, whatever.

Anyway, if you want to expose everyone to computers, that's the place to slot it in:
a semester or a year of computer class in 6th grade.

Comment The mother of all inner platforms (Score 1) 338

This is going to be an inner-platform, not for a platform, but...wait for it...for a programmer.

The Inner-Platform Effect is a result of designing a system to be so customizable that it ends becoming a poor replica of the platform it was designed with. This "customization" of this dynamic inner-platform becomes so complicated that only a programmer (and not the end user) is able to modify it.

Comment 27 heads of lettuce (Score 1) 338

This is the first numerical problem I ever did.
It demonstrates the power of computers:

Enter lots of data on calorie & nutritive content of foods.
Instruct the thing to maximize a function describing nutritive content, with a minimum level of each component, for fixed caloric content.
The results are that one should eat each day:

        1/2 chicken
        1 egg
        1 glass of skim milk
        27 heads of lettuce.
                -- Rev. Adrian Melott

Comment Run away! Run away! (Score 2) 90

I don't know what Atlassian will do with Trello, but their existing products are horrid.
We use JIRA (a bug tracker) and Confluence (a wiki). These suffer from
- poor use of screen space
- useless search
- crude and inconsistent text editing
- verbose, non-standard, and broken markdown

Atlassian products are built for shelf-appeal: they are designed to look good in sales demos, and to appeal the people who sign POs and checks: CEOs, VPs, and directors. But they don't actually work for the people who have to use them: programmers and first-line managers.

Atlassian puts their own bug database online. When you find a problem with Atlassian software you can search for it there. You will likely find that other people have found this problem before you, and opened tickets on it, which Atlassian has since closed, explaining either
- yes, it is broken, but fixing it would be hard, so we're not going to
- no, that's the way it is supposed to work, and we're not going to change it

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