1891: "Obsolete Technology"

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1891: "Obsolete Technology"

Postby sardia » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:32 pm UTC

https://xkcd.com/1891/
Title text: And I can't believe some places still use fax machines. The electrical signals waste so much time going AROUND the Earth when neutrino beams can go straight through
Now I have to Google to see if neutrinos can be used to send signals for the internet. That would give me a nice advantage on Dota.
Edit fixed a typo.
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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby suso » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:47 pm UTC

Disclaimer: I'm saying all this realizing that I have a bias of my own by running a popular twitter feed for command line tips. :D

I think we're overcoming the stigma/stereotype of the command line being obsolete. The general public now associates that black window with text in it mostly with "hacking" due to the media portrayals. I guess this is fine as long as they don't think of it as old and I don't get kicked off a plane just for editing a text file in vim. I see it heavily being used in programmer tutorials, screenshots, tutorial videos and when looking across people's laptops at conferences. I think there has even been an increase in recent years over the way things were in the early 2000s. It's becoming obvious to people that some applications don't make sense to turn into a whole GUI app and that a lot of GUI apps are just overbloated.
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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby jozwa » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:49 pm UTC

sardia wrote:That would give me a nice advantage on Dota.


I don't see why not. All you gotta do is travel to wherever the server is and install your neutrino receiver somewhere close and connect it to the internet.

But I'm curious about those nuclear fireworks. Is there a downside besides the radiation that would kill us all?

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby cellocgw » Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:00 pm UTC

I vote this comic as the all-time winner in the XKCD-Sarcasm category.

Plus it drastically improved my mood on this Monday.

Other technologies that people prefer not to use:

automated driving
condoms
[flame war items follow]
digital audio vs. tube amps
GMO foods
gas grills vs. charcoal
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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby Aubri » Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:06 pm UTC

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If it is broke, fix it only as much as is necessary.

jozwa wrote:But I'm curious about those nuclear fireworks. Is there a downside besides the radiation that would kill us all?

Unless you don't mind EMPing the entire tri-state area, you'd need a nice, long sight line to the display location (assuming you rather like your football stadium or what-have-you.)

Also, the grand finale gets expensive.

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby CelticNot » Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:18 pm UTC

Aubri wrote:
jozwa wrote:But I'm curious about those nuclear fireworks. Is there a downside besides the radiation that would kill us all?

Unless you don't mind EMPing the entire tri-state area, you'd need a nice, long sight line to the display location (assuming you rather like your football stadium or what-have-you.)

Also, the grand finale gets expensive.


Not to mention... the initial fireball is bright enough as it is - how are you even going to see the fancy shapes formed by the ejecta?
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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby ObsessoMom » Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:30 pm UTC

Re: old tech in general--

This morning's Wall Street Journal had an article (here, but behind a paywall, sorry) warning that Millennials' unfamiliarity with how postal mail works might affect the outcome of Australia's election on same-sex marriage, which is being conducted by mail-in ballot.

My 20-year-old daughter condemned the article as ageist, prejudicial nonsense. (But she had to agree with the article's tangential reference to Millennials' scorn for doorbells, because almost everyone she'd ever want to open the door for just texts "I'm here" instead.)

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby qvxb » Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:36 pm UTC

I believe Dr. D. Howser still uses MS-DOS.

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby orthogon » Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:51 pm UTC

CelticNot wrote:
Aubri wrote:
jozwa wrote:But I'm curious about those nuclear fireworks. Is there a downside besides the radiation that would kill us all?

Unless you don't mind EMPing the entire tri-state area, you'd need a nice, long sight line to the display location (assuming you rather like your football stadium or what-have-you.)

Also, the grand finale gets expensive.


Not to mention... the initial fireball is bright enough as it is - how are you even going to see the fancy shapes formed by the ejecta?

Isn't the main issue (apart from all the other issues already mentioned) that there's a minimum size for a nuclear explosion? As I understand it, Fat Man and Little Boy, which devastated one Japanese city each, contained just a little over the critical mass for Pt and U respectively. To make a firework-sized explosion, you'd have to be confident that your fissile material only very partially fissioned. (As a teenager, I was annoyed by an episode of, I think, the Delbert Wilkins show, in which a small quantity of material causes a firecracker-sized bang. I can't for the life of me remember how a DJ for the Brixton Broadcasting Corporation had got hold of the stuff in the first place).
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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby Flumble » Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:13 pm UTC

Is there any scenario left for which MS DOS is an adequate OS? I use graphics-less linuxen all the time, but they're up to date and the kernel is still being maintained.

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby Weeks » Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:49 pm UTC

sardia wrote:https://xkcd.com/1891/
Title text: And I can't believe some places still use fax machines. The electrical signals waste so much time going AROUND the Earth when neutrino beams can go straight through
Now I have to Google to see if neutrinos can be used to send signals for the internet. That would give me a nice advantage on Dota.
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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby wumpus » Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:02 pm UTC

Flumble wrote:Is there any scenario left for which MS DOS is an adequate OS? I use graphics-less linuxen all the time, but they're up to date and the kernel is still being maintained.


Any case where "real time" means real time. That said, I don't think anyone has manufactured a CPU with the same realtime controls for almost as long. Anything 486-based (assuming you could lock down the cache) would allow predictable cycle counts [I'm assuming you don't need the MMU unless using XMS memory or similar, you may be limited to 640k].

Don't always assume you need a "real" OS, or even much beyond a bootloader. If you want to *know* how long it will take to execute something on your processor, you don't want all the stuff an OS supplies (even using virtual memory means a single memory load can take a *long* time). Of course, this might require a two processor (separate. Dual core would interfere with each other's memory). One for dealing with real time, and the other an interface for the programmer (using a full blown OS) to the real time chip. Expect the "OS chip" to need a lot more processing power than the "work chip".

Don't be surprised if the MS-DOS computer develops a virus despite having no internet or floppy port. Microsoft software will find a way to get its malware, all the time. Yes, I've seen such a computer with viruses, presumably they were put on the last time it was in for service.

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby DavidSh » Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:11 pm UTC

As of 2012, the state of the art neutrino communications link operated at 1/10 bits per second. http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2012/mar/19/neutrino-based-communication-is-a-first. That's pretty bad through-put, even if the rate has doubled every year since then.

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby GalFisk » Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:20 pm UTC

CelticNot wrote:
Aubri wrote:
jozwa wrote:But I'm curious about those nuclear fireworks. Is there a downside besides the radiation that would kill us all?

Unless you don't mind EMPing the entire tri-state area, you'd need a nice, long sight line to the display location (assuming you rather like your football stadium or what-have-you.)

Also, the grand finale gets expensive.


Not to mention... the initial fireball is bright enough as it is - how are you even going to see the fancy shapes formed by the ejecta?

Eclipse glasses?

High altitude bursts are the prettiest, but also the EMPiest. Low altitude bursts create a lot of nitrogen oxides in addition to radioactive fallout (seen as red parts of the mushroom cloud, after the glow has faded).

New chemistry is being added to the fireworks arsenal, but tried and true formulas often keep being used as well. Those containing lead, mercury or arsenic have usually been replaced by safer formulations though.

Cost and availability is an important factor. The fireworks industry is tiny, so most of the ingredients are chemicals already produced in bulk quantities for other industries. If a fireworker wants an exotic chemical, they must often either pay more than it's worth, or synthesize it themselves.

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby Farabor » Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:30 pm UTC

Aubri wrote:If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If it is broke, fix it only as much as is necessary.


Unfortunately, this attitude can lead to situations where people are complacent and don't realize that something actually is broken, but not in an obvious way. Case in point: Light bulbs. For their primary function (Delivering light), over 100 year old technology worked just fine, and wasn't fixed.

Unfortunately, this ignored the fact that the way they went about doing it lead to way more energy being used than needed, most of which bled off into waste heat (To the point that a children's toy used to use a light bulb to power an oven that you could cook actual baked goods in!).

It's only now in the age of energy efficiency being a goal that people started to realize "Err, wait..."

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Re: 1891: "Obsolete Technology"

Postby airdrik » Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:35 pm UTC

For a modern MS-DOS replacement there is http://www.freedos.org/ which is regularly updated and maintained. It looks like it is mostly intended for perpetuating the playing of classic DOS games and enabling the use of other DOS software now that MS no longer supports MS-DOS.

Another note: the comic title is "Obsolete Technology" not "New Technology" (I don't know if that changed, but I think it was that at least as long as this thread has been around).

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby DanD » Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:02 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:Isn't the main issue (apart from all the other issues already mentioned) that there's a minimum size for a nuclear explosion? As I understand it, Fat Man and Little Boy, which devastated one Japanese city each, contained just a little over the critical mass for Pt and U respectively. To make a firework-sized explosion, you'd have to be confident that your fissile material only very partially fissioned. (As a teenager, I was annoyed by an episode of, I think, the Delbert Wilkins show, in which a small quantity of material causes a firecracker-sized bang. I can't for the life of me remember how a DJ for the Brixton Broadcasting Corporation had got hold of the stuff in the first place).


Sub-critical implosion weapons are common, but they still have a lower limit on energy release. (There's a limit on how far you can get the conventional explosive shell to compress the nuclear fuel).

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby MDS_Dan » Mon Sep 18, 2017 7:22 pm UTC

Nuclear weapons make great fireworks
Example:Starfish Prime
Image
Image
Sure, you'd end up EMP-ing the entirety of north america on the fourth of July, but hey, at least it'd be a nice show

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby Stargazer71 » Mon Sep 18, 2017 7:30 pm UTC

Farabor wrote:
Aubri wrote:If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If it is broke, fix it only as much as is necessary.


Unfortunately, this attitude can lead to situations where people are complacent and don't realize that something actually is broken, but not in an obvious way. Case in point: Light bulbs. For their primary function (Delivering light), over 100 year old technology worked just fine, and wasn't fixed.

Unfortunately, this ignored the fact that the way they went about doing it lead to way more energy being used than needed, most of which bled off into waste heat (To the point that a children's toy used to use a light bulb to power an oven that you could cook actual baked goods in!).

It's only now in the age of energy efficiency being a goal that people started to realize "Err, wait..."


It depends on the magnitude of the improvements you want to see. I have yet to hear anyone say, "Our dependance on foreign oil for energy used to be much worse. Now that we have switched out our light bulbs, things are looking much better."

I'm not saying that energy efficient light bulbs are a bad thing. If you look at energy for a single household before and after, I'm confident you can see a meaningful difference. But in the large scale--on the magnitude of the global economy, the only meaningful change I see is the hubris of those who tout it as a major accomplishment.

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby CelticNot » Mon Sep 18, 2017 7:47 pm UTC

ObsessoMom wrote:... (But she had to agree with the article's tangential reference to Millennials' scorn for doorbells, because almost everyone she'd ever want to open the door for just texts "I'm here" instead.)


As someone who doesn't fit cleanly into one generation or another, I have the same problem, honestly. I am not comfortable interacting with strangers, and my home exists as a refuge from them. Send me an e-mail if you want to ask me a question, or if you must go analog, leave a pamphlet in my mailbox, and let me get to it on my own time.
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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby commodorejohn » Mon Sep 18, 2017 7:50 pm UTC

Flumble wrote:Is there any scenario left for which MS DOS is an adequate OS? I use graphics-less linuxen all the time, but they're up to date and the kernel is still being maintained.

As wumpus says, applications where realtime response is critical are not a great fit for most "modern" operating systems. I do know there are some esoteric systems being developed with this in mind, but then you run into the standard problems of esoteric systems (unknown numbers of possible bugs, limited development/update manpower to address them, and lack of a comprehensive software ecosystem.) DOS has been around for damn near forty years now and it's pretty much a known quantity, plus it has no qualms about letting you get as close to the bare metal as you please.

Also other embedded applications, for similar reasons (no updates to get means no worrying about whether a machine in the field has the latest updates!)

Also, if you're George R.R. Martin and consider multi-tasking to be a misfeature because it's harder to concentrate when you can just switch over to any number of distractions at a whim.
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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby sonar1313 » Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:00 pm UTC

Stargazer71 wrote:
Farabor wrote:
Aubri wrote:If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If it is broke, fix it only as much as is necessary.


Unfortunately, this attitude can lead to situations where people are complacent and don't realize that something actually is broken, but not in an obvious way. Case in point: Light bulbs. For their primary function (Delivering light), over 100 year old technology worked just fine, and wasn't fixed.

Unfortunately, this ignored the fact that the way they went about doing it lead to way more energy being used than needed, most of which bled off into waste heat (To the point that a children's toy used to use a light bulb to power an oven that you could cook actual baked goods in!).

It's only now in the age of energy efficiency being a goal that people started to realize "Err, wait..."


It depends on the magnitude of the improvements you want to see. I have yet to hear anyone say, "Our dependance on foreign oil for energy used to be much worse. Now that we have switched out our light bulbs, things are looking much better."

I'm not saying that energy efficient light bulbs are a bad thing. If you look at energy for a single household before and after, I'm confident you can see a meaningful difference. But in the large scale--on the magnitude of the global economy, the only meaningful change I see is the hubris of those who tout it as a major accomplishment.

That, and racing to "fix" something before you have a good solution is a terrible idea. I think the light bulbs are the perfect case in point. Part of the reason you don't see a major impact is because it turns out CFLs in the real world have nowhere near the lifespan they do in the lab. The tests that determined lifespan just involved leaving the damn things on til they burned out, which is a pathetic real-world simulation. Turning them on and off damages them, especially if you do so within a few minutes. I actually read an article once that suggested people leave a CFL on for at least 15 minutes to preserve its lifespan, which is silly when a great many uses of lightbulbs are for like three minutes or less. Kind of blunts the energy savings.

And then it became a struggle to find a place to recycle them, which ended up meaning a 15-minute drive to a place that accepted them, instead of just putting them in the trash, which kind of blunts the carbon impact.

I'm pretty convinced that the light bulb thing could've been solved by itself once LEDs came out. CFLs went from future to dinosaur in a hurry, and probably would never have caught on had they not been essentially mandated.

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby jc » Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:10 pm UTC

suso wrote:I think we're overcoming the stigma/stereotype of the command line being obsolete. The general public now associates that black window with text in it mostly with "hacking" due to the media portrayals. I guess this is fine as long as they don't think of it as old and I don't get kicked off a plane just for editing a text file in vim. I see it heavily being used in programmer tutorials, screenshots, tutorial videos and when looking across people's laptops at conferences. I think there has even been an increase in recent years over the way things were in the early 2000s. It's becoming obvious to people that some applications don't make sense to turn into a whole GUI app and that a lot of GUI apps are just overbloated.


A nice summary that I've seen in several forms is: It's often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but a typical thousand-word text can rarely be replaced by a picture.

There's a good reason that TV never replaced things like books, newspapers, etc. Video is fairly good as an entertainment medium. But if you're trying to express ideas, video and images are only rarely a useful format. Most of the concepts that we've ever come up with have no pictorial representation, and must be represented in "language" form. This is why the early "silent movies" were quickly and permanently augmented by speech, and why computer GUI windows almost always contain text. The text is where you find most of the actual information. Except in a few limited cases, the image part is usually just decoration.

Of course, there are exceptions. Thus, last week's stories on the end of Cassini included a lot of images, and most of those images actually did contain a lot of valuable scientific information. But if you look at most uses of images and videos, this is hardly ever true. If you want to actually impart useful information, you usually have to use text, with only occasional images for the few things that are best presented that way.

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby commodorejohn » Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:01 pm UTC

sonar1313 wrote:That, and racing to "fix" something before you have a good solution is a terrible idea.

See also the Ontario nuclear plant that was in the news a few years back when they decided to continue with their maintainable and well-tested PDP-11 based solution until 2050 because it, y'know, just works.
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Re: 1891: "Obsolete Technology"

Postby jc » Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:08 pm UTC

airdrik wrote:For a modern MS-DOS replacement there is http://www.freedos.org/ which is regularly updated and maintained. It looks like it is mostly intended for perpetuating the playing of classic DOS games and enabling the use of other DOS software now that MS no longer supports MS-DOS.


In one of the projects I worked on back in the early 1990s, there was a customer requirement that our app must "run on DOS". I was the guy who implemented that part, by writing our start-up and shut-down routines. What the start-up routine did was: 1) overwrite the interrupt table with our own that pointed to wherever our routines happened to be in memory; and 2) adding everything but that table and our program to the free-space list, initializing it to all zeroes. The shut-down routine, of course, simply (;-) emulated the CTL-ALT-DEL boot routine. This satisfied the "run on DOS" requirement, from the customer's managers' viewpoint.

I remember talking to them once about making sure it worked on freeDOS, for the future when MS/DOS was no longer supported. But I'd already moved on to the next contract by then, and I don't know if they ever did it.

There's gotta be some managers still around who think that the world runs on MS/DOS ...

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Re: 1891: "Obsolete Technology"

Postby ObsessoMom » Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:29 pm UTC

airdrik wrote:Another note: the comic title is "Obsolete Technology" not "New Technology" (I don't know if that changed, but I think it was that at least as long as this thread has been around).


Oooh, plot twist! "New Technology" is now obsolete.

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Re: 1891: "Obsolete Technology"

Postby airdrik » Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:07 pm UTC

jc wrote:
airdrik wrote:For a modern MS-DOS replacement there is http://www.freedos.org/ which is regularly updated and maintained. It looks like it is mostly intended for perpetuating the playing of classic DOS games and enabling the use of other DOS software now that MS no longer supports MS-DOS.


In one of the projects I worked on back in the early 1990s, there was a customer requirement that our app must "run on DOS". I was the guy who implemented that part, by writing our start-up and shut-down routines. What the start-up routine did was: 1) overwrite the interrupt table with our own that pointed to wherever our routines happened to be in memory; and 2) adding everything but that table and our program to the free-space list, initializing it to all zeroes. The shut-down routine, of course, simply (;-) emulated the CTL-ALT-DEL boot routine. This satisfied the "run on DOS" requirement, from the customer's managers' viewpoint.

I remember talking to them once about making sure it worked on freeDOS, for the future when MS/DOS was no longer supported. But I'd already moved on to the next contract by then, and I don't know if they ever did it.

There's gotta be some managers still around who think that the world runs on MS/DOS ...


Or Cobol, a language which is as obsolete as any other 60-year-old language/system, yet still widely used (and if you are interested in learning old obscure (by today's standards at least) languages, there are a number of high-paying positions available)

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby dtilque » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:35 am UTC

DavidSh wrote:As of 2012, the state of the art neutrino communications link operated at 1/10 bits per second. http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2012/mar/19/neutrino-based-communication-is-a-first. That's pretty bad through-put, even if the rate has doubled every year since then.

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Re: 1891: "Obsolete Technology"

Postby Solra Bizna » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:00 am UTC

jc wrote:There's gotta be some managers still around who think that the world runs on MS/DOS ...

My high school programming teacher swore up and down that Linux must be built on top of MS-DOS, and therefore must be violating Microsoft's copyrights. Up to that point, I'd thought that was a joke rumor nobody took seriously. (Granted, this was ~15 years ago.)

wumpus wrote:I don't think anyone has manufactured a CPU with the same realtime controls for almost as long.

I've recently been working with a certain still-manufactured CPU, whose hard, deterministic timings have been coming in pretty handy. Though some younglings might argue that a 65C02 is not, in fact, "actually" a CPU. ;)

Don't ARM-M CPUs support realtime operation too?

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Re: 1891: "Obsolete Technology"

Postby RogueCynic » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:20 am UTC

True story. I downloaded Fedora 25 last year and tried to install it from a flash drive. My wireless USB mouse did not work in the installation process so I switched to my wired USB mouse. That did not work either. On a whim, I plugged in my serial mouse (yes, the motherboard still had a port). I ran the installation again and it worked. I seem to be having the same problem with Fedora 26.
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Re: 1891: "Obsolete Technology"

Postby Iranon » Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:50 am UTC

Age and lack of GUI is the least problem, but I may be prejudiced against Microsoft. Especially when it comes to the past. Still, it may still be the right tool for the job.

As far as the user-facing part is concerned, I really wish there was nicer interplay between CLIs and GUIs.
Sometimes, text is king... when you know exactly what you want to do, and it's not something so common that it could be part of a clean, simple GUI. In other situations, GUIs or tons of obscure shortcuts a la MacOs are useful... but I'd like these as an overlay over something text-based, where I can look up what is actually being done when I click on something. Directly would be nice, a human-readable configuration file will do.

This is possible with some old-school window managers, and I found the experience quite liberating. Shame it has fallen out of mainstream use; imo all some of them need is an updated default configuration (when that hasn't changed since the 90ies, first impression will be "old, ugly and unusable").
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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby Eternal Density » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:09 am UTC

cellocgw wrote:I vote this comic as the all-time winner in the XKCD-Sarcasm category.

Plus it drastically improved my mood on this Monday.

Other technologies that people prefer not to use:

automated driving
condoms
[flame war items follow]
digital audio vs. tube amps
GMO foods
gas grills vs. charcoal
I agree about the sarcasm-winning. However, I believe that all the items you listed are flame war items, not just the latter three.
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solune
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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby solune » Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:02 am UTC

MDS_Dan wrote:Nuclear weapons make great fireworks


From an aesthetic perspective, the great limitation of nuclear fireworks is that in the visible range, most of the radiation comes from secondary black-body radiation, thus only white, yellow, red. To get green/blue/purple you need chemical reactions.
Now, if you had gamma-ray vision, the show would look much better. By mixing different kinds of fissile material you could get plenty of different 'colors'.

Same problem for having all visual effects concentrated in the initial boom: with a better vision, you could watch short term and long term decay reactions all over the fireball. And you could even watch the ground glowing for thousands of years after the show !

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pkcommando
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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby pkcommando » Tue Sep 19, 2017 12:31 pm UTC

jozwa wrote:But I'm curious about those nuclear fireworks. Is there a downside besides the radiation that would kill us all?

I'd imagine they're a bit noisier than boring old fireworks.

And no one wants to deal with neighbors filing a noise complaint.
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Soupspoon
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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Sep 19, 2017 12:56 pm UTC

solune wrote:Same problem for having all visual effects concentrated in the initial boom: with a better vision, you could watch short term and long term decay reactions all over the fireball. And you could even watch the ground glowing for thousands of years after the show !


Or, instead of RGB colours, αβγ ones!

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Re: 1891: "Obsolete Technology"

Postby commodorejohn » Tue Sep 19, 2017 2:03 pm UTC

Solra Bizna wrote:I've recently been working with a certain still-manufactured CPU, whose hard, deterministic timings have been coming in pretty handy. Though some younglings might argue that a 65C02 is not, in fact, "actually" a CPU. ;)

Indeed, 65xx is the goods :D Though there's a few gotchas timing-wise, but they mostly have to do with boundaries between 256-byte "pages," so they can be worked around if you really need hard deterministic timing.
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x7eggert
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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby x7eggert » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:15 pm UTC

Flumble wrote:Is there any scenario left for which MS DOS is an adequate OS? I use graphics-less linuxen all the time, but they're up to date and the kernel is still being maintained.


Yes, currently™ I'm playing X-COM - Terror From The Deep.

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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby x7eggert » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:17 pm UTC

wumpus wrote:Any case where "real time" means real time. That said, I don't think anyone has manufactured a CPU with the same realtime controls for almost as long. Anything 486-based (assuming you could lock down the cache) would allow predictable cycle counts [I'm assuming you don't need the MMU unless using XMS memory or similar, you may be limited to 640k].


You can also use Arduinos for many things - e.g. my 3D printer.

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Re: 1891: "Obsolete Technology"

Postby wumpus » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:36 pm UTC

Solra Bizna wrote:
jc wrote:There's gotta be some managers still around who think that the world runs on MS/DOS ...

My high school programming teacher swore up and down that Linux must be built on top of MS-DOS, and therefore must be violating Microsoft's copyrights. Up to that point, I'd thought that was a joke rumor nobody took seriously. (Granted, this was ~15 years ago.)

wumpus wrote:I don't think anyone has manufactured a CPU with the same realtime controls for almost as long.

I've recently been working with a certain still-manufactured CPU, whose hard, deterministic timings have been coming in pretty handy. Though some younglings might argue that a 65C02 is not, in fact, "actually" a CPU. ;)

Don't ARM-M CPUs support realtime operation too?


[Note to those born after the horror of MS-DOS. Googling "non reentrant interupt handler" (a better description of MS-DOS than "Operating System") didn't begin to mention the horrors of MS-DOS and merely suggested arcane details of writing Linux device drivers. Be glad for your sanity that you can't learn the true nature of this beast. It makes even the ugly nature of x86 segmentation seem tame.]

I can't believe I wrote "CPU" when I meant "x86 CPU". I'm turning into the commenters I laugh at. ARM chips *should* be possible, the real thing that kills hard real time capability is the MMU (which makes huge problems for modern coding). You would need to either turn all virtual memory off (obviously possible in x86 to emulate an 8086) or set sufficiently large pages to cover everything (and allow for any needed executable and writeable pages). It should also be in-order (plenty of ARM chips still are), and preferably have the cache locked down (computing worse case on cache misses might surprise you) or disabled (that might not worth doing for plenty of vendors). But I'd probably suggest going to an Atmel AVR (seen in Audino) processor if you want low worst case response time (6502 will be pretty good, but AVR seemed to be designed with a lot of lessons learned from that era) and only trying to force ARM to work your way as a last ditch option. Forcing something as complex as an ARM chip to function not as designed is asking for trouble.

There was a passing mention in one of Venor Vinge's works about a software archeologist digging down to "MS-DOS" levels. Although the whole "MS-DOS" is mandatory cult seems weird, I'm not quite sure where it came from. I've heard the claim that "windows 95 was built on DOS, but NT isn't, and really can't tell the difference (building a non-cooperatively task switched OS on top of MS-DOS is pretty much impossible. By the time you've re-written all the code underneath, you probably can't call it MS-DOS anymore). The "Linux violates Unix copyrights" was pretty much proof by repeated assertion (including paid journals) funded by Microsoft and Sun.

While "building on top of MS-DOS" was never required, there were certainly advantages of "building on top of BIOS calls". To a MS-DOS programmer, you really didn't see much difference between making a BIOS call (interrupt) and making a MS-DOS call. They were probably made similar on purpose. BIOS calls were basically "drivers in ROM" that let you have compatibility regardless of the hardware, but only worked with real mode and no real task switching. LILO presumably used them (BIOS calls) to boot Linux (and probably GRUB), but that's all replaced with UEFI now. As far as I can tell, UEFI pretty much lets the user configure the computer (depending on the settings), checks the software (for rootkits or someone daring to put Linux on it) and finally hands the computer to the OS.

x7eggert
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Re: 1891: "New Technology"

Postby x7eggert » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:54 pm UTC

sonar1313 wrote:I think the light bulbs are the perfect case in point. Part of the reason you don't see a major impact is because it turns out CFLs in the real world have nowhere near the lifespan they do in the lab. The tests that determined lifespan just involved leaving the damn things on til they burned out, which is a pathetic real-world simulation. Turning them on and off damages them, especially if you do so within a few minutes. I actually read an article once that suggested people leave a CFL on for at least 15 minutes to preserve its lifespan, which is silly when a great many uses of lightbulbs are for like three minutes or less. Kind of blunts the energy savings.

And then it became a struggle to find a place to recycle them, which ended up meaning a 15-minute drive to a place that accepted them, instead of just putting them in the trash, which kind of blunts the carbon impact.

I'm pretty convinced that the light bulb thing could've been solved by itself once LEDs came out. CFLs went from future to dinosaur in a hurry, and probably would never have caught on had they not been essentially mandated.


I am not turning them on and off like mad* and they do last much longer than the classic bulbs. While I only had to change about three CFLs in my house, I had to change dozens classic and halogen for my grandmother, especially annoying the one that failed on the toilet while I needed it.

If I want to get rid of them, I can return them in many places either on my way or near places I have to visit. German Law says you have to accept small electronic devices if you want to sell them. (Also I wouldn't return single bulbs.)

People are stupid when it comes to math. They'll buy 50 cent light bulbs and pay 12 € for energy - both times five for a total of 62,50 € - instead of 7,50 € for a light bulb (or two if you have a bad one) that would only use 18,33 € for energy, let's say 33,33 € in total.


*) But I'm being criticized for turning off the light too often


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