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Comment Re:I'll document it tomorrow (Score 1) 495

I find that whenever I try to set a hard, fast programming rule, I find side cases where I honestly probably should break it. It doesn't matter what the rule is about - spacing, line wrapping, what belongs in a class vs. a standalone function, what files to put various pieces of code... whatever rule I make, I find cases where it probably would be better for me not to follow it.

The same happens with comments. I'm very much in the school of long, descriptive function names and variables that are self-commenting. I hate coming across old, outdated comments that no longer apply to the code; with long, descriptive variable and function names, you can read what's happening and it's always up to date. And often that's enough. The code says what it's doing, it's straightforward... job done.

But that's not always enough. Because it's one thing to say what's happening. But it's another thing to say "why". When was the last time you put the word "because" in a variable or function name? That's what comments should be for. Not what you're doing, but why you're doing it. Sometimes code just needs descriptive variable and function names. But sometimes you really need the "why" explained.

Comment Re:I'll document it tomorrow (Score 1) 495

Or the more annoying:


void fn193(dt_1011 a)
{
/* BEGIN FUNCTION */

/* IF a is greater than 5 THEN*/
    if (a > 5)
    {
/* Loop 10 times */
        for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++)
        {
/* Call fn828 with arguments a and i */
            fn828(a, i);
        }
/* end IF statement */
    }
/* end FOR loop */

...

/* END FUNCTION */
}

.... without ever having mentioned why they're doing any of it. Yes, someone who used to work here actually programmed like that. A comment on almost every line, and none of them at all useful. :P

They did sometimes have function headers. Unfortunately they were mostly cargo-cult style copies, full of meaningless cruft and long-outdated information, and... it almost hurts me to say this... doublespaced. ;)

Comment Re:Why no 4k footage of the moon? (Score 1) 47

You said both the Moon and Mars. Can you not even read your own posts?

FYI, there are not "millions of people" who would like to sit around staring at a picture that only very slowly changes. And there's no point to live video anyway because there's no action; you can just broadcast stills and interpolate between them if that's what you want. All stills that NASA captures are released publicly for people like you to oggle at.

Lastly, in case you're actually curious, there are four missions active at the moon right now: ARTEMIS P1, ARTEMIS P2, LRO, and Chang'e 5-T1. The former two don't have cameras; they're simple satellites for studying radiation and magnetic fields. Chang'e 5-T1 is just a test mission for China to advance its technology for future moon missions. LRO is the only one that takes pictures. You can see them here. Unlike Mars, a well designed spacecraft like LRO (although not a cheap spacecraft) could have enough bandwidth for streaming live HD video. But LRMO is quite reasonably designed for science, not screensavers. It has three cameras. Two are black and white cameras which are more like a telescope (as with most spacecraft cameras) - black and white for maximum resolution (every pixel measuring brightness rather than every several combined pixels). I don't know if you've ever tried to capture video through a telescope while moving relative to the object you're trying to capture, but as a general rule it doesn't work very well, and there is nothing about the hardware that's setup for video processing. The third is a wide angle colour camera... "wide angle" in that the camera images are many times wider than they are tall, designed for capturing (nonaligned) strips of the surface in seven spectral bands (which do not correspond directly to what the human eye sees, but are most useful for determining the composition of the surface)

Not that they would ever waste such an expensive instrument's time on capturing a glorified screensaver for Slashdot ACs.

If you want a screensaver satellite, find someone who's willing to pay many tens to several hundred million of dollars to make a fancy screensaver.

Comment Re:Any photos of the entire Earth? (Score 1) 47

LM doesn't mean Lunar Lander, it means Lunar Module. I don't know why you expect NASA's search engine to find things when you call them by the wrong name. Do you expect it to turn up pictures of the space shuttle if you type in "Space Bus"?

As for your other stuff, you're clearly trolling, and I don't feed trolls.

Comment Re:I think (Score 1) 47

Thankfully the URL is easy to remember... just like images.google.com.

It's kind of amusing searching for keywords that you wouldn't expect to show up on a NASA image search. For example, I found a Native-American juggling hoops, old ladies line dancing at a farmers' market, kids dressed as Men in Black dancing underneath the Shuttle Endeavour, people using the primary mirror of James Webb to take selfies, actress Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) singing, NASA's hip-hop dance team Forces In Motion (travels around middle schools teaching Newton's laws), James Ingram singing "I believe I can fly" in front of Bill Nye, NASA administrator Dan Goldin laughing with (hopefully not at) a "bubble boy" in a protective suit, enough frames of someone testing out a spacesuit to make a stop-motion dance video, and a bunch of other unexpected weirdness.

Comment Re:Why no 4k footage of the moon? (Score 1) 47

What are you talking about? We''ve been sending some damned impressive cameras out into space of late. Heck, even not just "of late". Have you seen the HiRISE images of Mars? Forget 4k, you can download those in 8k.

Now, if you're talking constant live 4K video footage, the problem isn't the cameras, it's the bandwidth over such huge distances.

Comment Perfect timing (Score 2) 47

The timing on this is perfect. A group I'm in is working on a book and right now going through trying to get copyright permission on all of the images we want to use (and sometimes you can't get it without paying fees, or can't get in touch with the author). Having such a huge wealth of public domain images all together on one seemingly well-designed search engine will be great for finding substitutions.

Too bad there's no ready substitution for figures from papers, however :P For a nonprofit book a lot of the big servers charge around $50 per image. Which for a full length book (dozens of figures) is thousands of dollars. Most authors are very nice about granting permission, but the journals are all about cash.

Comment Re:I know just the man for the job (Score 5, Informative) 78

Not just been photos, there's been some reported video as well (also Queensland). I did check the gait of the animal in the video, and it matches a diagram of the thylacine's gait. But that's hardly unique to them, it just narrows down the range of possible species. There's old zoo footage here.

I doubt it's actually a thylacine, but who knows, weirder things have been discovered.

Comment Re:Patent Expiry Question (Score 2) 256

Another point to ponder. There is no way that Titleist's actual balls conform to many of the claims in these patents. But they don't have to. These are just claims made by patent lawyers and don't need to be reflected in any actual product. But no doubt some features of Titleist balls match the patents, there are so many of them (hundreds) and are so varied and broadly phrased they would have to. But that is also true of any other golf ball made by anybody.

Therein lies the secret of corporate abuse of the patent system to create virtual monopolies. You don't have to actually invent or show anything - you simply write up vast lists of claims to create hooks for lawyers to threaten to sue other people. The people who write these patents simply spend their lives poring over technical literature, concocting new descriptive language, dreaming up new claims to make, not actually inventing anything useful or even real.

Comment Re:Patent Expiry Question (Score 1) 256

So, patents do expire, right? Companies can't do this forever, right? Eventually after the 20 year time expires we can get nice things for cheap, right? Somebody...

Take a look at the patents (I posted a list and some direct links up-page).

The set of them are enormous grab-bags of literally hundreds of claims over every aspect of golf ball design and construction. You can paste-up Googled polymer chemistry terms, reworded descriptions of geometry, revised lists of hardness scores, etc. etc. to create new tossed-salads of claims until the end of time. This is "patent engineering" - creating dense obscure far reaching webs of claims for lawyers to file, there is not actual innovation in the lot of them.

Comment Re:Costco put some cards on the table (Score 1) 256

I think someone at Acushnet is in trouble now for sending threatening letters.

Surely not. This has been an extremely successful tactic to crush competition up to now. The ridiculous margin they are making on their balls surely covers the modest cost of a lawyer who writes threaten letters (and the legal department that is "innovating" by writing up new patents to file).

Comment Re:Costco put some cards on the table (Score 4, Insightful) 256

This being /. lots of people are speculating about what the patents might be, rather than simply following the link and then looking them up and actually knowing.

Here are links to four of the patents mentioned (there are eleven of them I don't have time to create markup links for all of them): US6994638, US8123632, US8444507, US9320944. The other patents are: US8025593, US 8257201, US 7331878, US6358161, US7887439, US 7641572, and US7163472. You can Google them like I did.

Looking over Costco's response, and looking at the patents themselves, I have a strong feeling of deja vu. Acushnet is not a patent troll, since they actually sell a product and are using the patent system to crush competition with litigation threats, but to my eye the patents are written in the finest patent troll tradition. They are all highly complex grab bags of a whole lot of claims written very broadly, a rich shopping list for lawyers to turn into legal accusations. Literally hundreds of separate claims are made in these patents, in a densely cross referenced fashion. They aren't patents of any identifiable invention, they are simply a wall of claims on every possible aspect of a golf ball so that something can be carved out to attack any competitor.

Note that Acushnet has never had to defend any of these claims in court! With the deeply broken patent system we have today, in which its stated purpose (to encourage innovation for the public good) has been turned on its head as a way of suppressing actual innovation and protecting established corporations, a patent cannot be assumed to have any validity until it has actually been litigated. The courts are called on to do the job of the patent examiners.

I doubt Costco is going to lose this case.

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