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Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

Alan Shutko Re:Simple (573 comments)

Whoosh.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Switching From SAS To Python Or R For Data Analysis and Modeling?

Alan Shutko Research and Recruitment (143 comments)

I work for a large Fortune 25 company. We have an existing SAS presence and we do some good work in SAS. There are two main reasons that we are bringing R into our environment: research and recruitment/retention.

R is extremely common across research right now. When a new paper comes out describing a new algorithm or modeling technique, the odds are extremely good that it comes with R source code. With R in-house, there is very little time or effort to try these things out to see if they can help our current work. With SAS, we would need to invest time recoding everything or worse, wait until it is baked into SAS itself. That is a huge barrier to adopting new approaches.

Recruitment and retention are related to R's popularity in research. Let's face it, data scientists are a hot commodity right now. Lots of companies are looking to hire them and there aren't enough good people to go around. We're seeing that a lot of the new talent have been using R in their graduate work rather than SAS, and are interested in an environment where they can continue using R. Additionally, it's harder to retain people once you've hired them if they can't use what's become a lingua franca.

SAS remains a great tool, and we're not going to get rid of it. Rather, we want to add R to the toolbox.

(I don't mention python here... We've got some folks working with Python especially for NLP, but for the work we do there's a lot more folks using R across industry and academia.)

about 2 months ago
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Perl Is Undead

Alan Shutko Re:Always found it amusing (283 comments)

I consider a language to be dead when people stop thinking of it as an option for new programs.

Fortran is still alive. Scientists are still using it for new simulations. Gradually momentum is moving to other languages, but it's still here.

Cobol is dead. Nobody would consider writing something new in it. It's still being used, but only because people want to add new functionality to large systems written in Cobol, and it's crazy-expensive to rewrite those old systems.

Perl? Well, I think it's getting there. It's still a job req because there is a lot of perl out there. But I agree with other folks in that when writing something from scratch, I see Perl picked rarely.

about 2 months ago
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Google To Take On Apple's CarPlay

Alan Shutko Re:Answer: Both (126 comments)

It's a protocol, not an OS. Vendors won't be running Android or iOS inside their cars. They'll just be able to talk to the device you plug in or pair.

about 2 months ago
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Google To Take On Apple's CarPlay

Alan Shutko Re:Consumer = LOSE (126 comments)

I don't agree. Apple has had an iPod integration protocol since 2005 which is supported by tons of OEM and aftermarket devices. That same protocol is still usable with the latest iPhone 5s and in iOS 8, nine years later. That protocol can even be used now to control third-party apps that are running, so I can pause and fast-forward just as I could if using the music app.

If Google makes a protocol that's simple for manufacturer's to adopt, and is suitably stable, that's good enough for me.

about 2 months ago
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TCP/IP Might Have Been Secure From the Start If Not For the NSA

Alan Shutko Misleading headline (149 comments)

It's true, that had the NSA chosen to share that info, we could have had better security. On the other hand, the NSA were the ones that developed it, so if not for the NSA, it would not have existed to use.

about 5 months ago
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An SSD for Your Current Computer May Save the Cost of a New One (Video)

Alan Shutko Re:or just get a hybrid drive (353 comments)

You probably mean 32GB of flash, not MB.

about 5 months ago
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Why Are There More Old Songs On iTunes Than Old eBooks?

Alan Shutko Re:Word processing?! (77 comments)

It only needs to be encoded into TEI if you want to digitally archive the original edition. For instance, you want to be able to mark up an original and identify original and regularized spelling of a word.

If you just want to be able to reissue an Ellery Queen novel in ePub, you don't need TEI at all, and could have someone just retype the scans or hand-correct (off shored, usually).

about 5 months ago
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Is the New "Common Core SAT" Bill Gates' Doing?

Alan Shutko BTDT (273 comments)

Doing things differently in every state is the way things have been done since the dawn of public education.

about 6 months ago
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How Mobile Apps Are Reinventing the Worst of the Software Industry

Alan Shutko Not very different from the web (333 comments)

Of the complaints, most of them apply to the web as well.

  • Millions of pointless apps/websites: yep
  • Fragmentation into parallel and incompatible app worlds: No, web does have an advantage here
  • Paying for apps became a race to the bottom: Yep
  • When apps are free, you're the product: Yep
  • The app user experience is wildly inconsistent: On Web, the experience for a single site is consistent across different browsers, but there's hardly any consistency between apps. On a mobile platform, usually there is more consistency between different apps.

The reason that mobile apps have been so popular is that in many ways they offer a better experience to websites. If Jeff wants more people to use the web instead, he should be learning from the successes of mobile apps and applying them to his websites. StackExchange has great content, but problematic UI, and it's got a really bad UI on mobile web. I'd love a more capable app version.

about 6 months ago
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HealthCare.gov Can't Handle Appeals of Errors

Alan Shutko Re:Coders (208 comments)

Accenture has a well-deserved reputation on a great many projects for decades of being only slightly better than stale toast at their projects.

about 7 months ago
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Edward Snowden Says NSA Engages In Industrial Espionage

Alan Shutko Re:Outside the range? (212 comments)

Well that depends, if you got a situation where America is artificially taking work away from other nations by simply stealing their knowledge, product designs and so forth then that might mean those nations become less stable and more likely to want to hurt America when they find out the only reason they're poor and unemployed is because America stole from them.

What have we done to China so far?

Developing countries are known for bootstrapping themselves by stealing IP from more developed nations. (The US did it when it was a developing nation: look at the history of textiles.) China has been doing it to the US for years, and our response has not been WWIII, but rather to work on gradually improving IP protections.

about 7 months ago
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Sex Offender Gets New Hearing After Hearing Officer Rants Against Arial Font

Alan Shutko Re:Oooh No. Most of /. is Arial font (312 comments)

Almost every font in use has fixed-width digits, including Arial. There are fonts out there designed mostly for display work that only have proportional digits, or as part of larger family which has options for both. But in general, unless you try very hard, all those numerical columns will line up.

about 9 months ago
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How To Lose $172,222 a Second For 45 Minutes

Alan Shutko Re:Garden Variety Upgrade SNAFU (327 comments)

There were a number of errors made here.

  1. They failed to deploy to one of eight servers
  2. They failed to automate the deployment to the servers such that it would be impossible to deploy to all servers without knowing.
  3. They didn't have a step between code deployment and production activation where they could validate all 8 servers. For instance, in our company, we deploy the prod code to the prod servers but leave them in a "stage" environment, where the production load balancer doesn't hit those instances. Once we've validated, we then switch the load balancers to point to the correct instance.
  4. They failed to quickly back out a change when they realized it was having problems. In fact, they backed out the part on seven servers but not the flag that was being sent to the servers, which made things worse.
  5. They failed to have a risk-mitigation backstop in place which would have prevented these orders from being submitted once they hit a certain amount, and which was required by SEC Rule 15c3-5(c)(1)(i).

There were a lot of places that you could put in a control to prevent or limit the effect of these kinds of errors, and that's the lesson people need to learn. Yes, mistakes happen! But try to make it hard to make a mistake, easy to recover from a mistake, and really easy to NOTICE a mistake.

about 10 months ago
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OS X 10.9 Mavericks Review

Alan Shutko Re:Nothing about colour accuracy? (222 comments)

All I can find is this in the Apple Dev Forums (login required). It seems that certain people in a workflow without a monitor color profile see differences without embedded profiles look differently. This does not appear to be a problem in a workflow where you regularly profile your monitor (and in fact, I don't see a problem).

So, if you depend on OS X for color accurate work, and if you are working exclusively with untagged images that are to be assumed to be sRGB, and if you have a monitor which does its own sRGB calibration and you're depending on the bits from the image being sent directly to the monitor without adjustment, then you might see problems. I don't know how big of a community that is.

about 10 months ago
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Buried In the Healthcare.gov Source: "No Expectation of Privacy"

Alan Shutko Re:How do we get Congress to sign up? (365 comments)

Congress and federal employees have an employer-sponsored health plan just like millions of other Americans. The ACA is not intended to replace employer-sponsored plans. Why should Congress lose theirs when nobody else is?

about 10 months ago

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