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Comments

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Polynomial Time Code For 3-SAT Released, P==NP

BrotherBeal Re:I'll be first to say WTF (700 comments)

Take a look at it through a fairly simple algebraic proof.

1.) 0.99999... * 10 = 9.99999... // decimal multiplication by 10 means we just shift to the left and the infinite decimal expansion isn't affected.

2.) 9.99999... - 0.99999... = 9 // the infinite decimal expansion is still a number and there's no reason we can't subtract it.

3.) 9 / 9 = 1 // if we take the difference from the above subtraction and "undo" the multiplication in step 1, we need to divide by 9 because we've just removed one of what we multiplied.

Therefore 0.99999... = 1. Q.E.D.

more than 3 years ago
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First-Sale Doctrine Lost Overseas

BrotherBeal Decision? (775 comments)

What does a 4-4 decision mean, anyway? TFA called this a "non-decision" but if that's the case, what are we reading about besides some remarks on the issue? Anybody got any clarification, because the folks at Forbes' sure don't.

more than 3 years ago
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Bacteria Used To Fix Cracked Concrete

BrotherBeal Re:Read teh article. (177 comments)

The spores germinate only in very alkaline environments... ...but the bases are nominally covered.

I see what you did there.

more than 3 years ago
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US Needs Secure Coding Office

BrotherBeal Re:Where's the USDS/W? (236 comments)

we don't make enough software we ......?

... have to go outside for a change?

more than 4 years ago
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US Unable To Win a Cyber War

BrotherBeal Re:We have BOFH (327 comments)

We make the USAF look like wusses.

The Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, NYPD and Stokes County Volunteer Fire Brigade all say the same thing.

more than 4 years ago
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If Everyone Had To Pass A Particular 101 Course, It Should Be About...

BrotherBeal Re:Few teachers or recruiters in this crowd... (1142 comments)

One of these is more useful than the other.

I agree. All the logic and knowledge in the world is effectively useless if you can't ever get it out of your head. Logic may structure your thoughts, but you throw all that structure away by abusing whatever protocol you're using to communicate (e.g. grammar). You're forcing everyone else to recreate the context and subtleties of your ideas before they can even wrestle with the ideas themselves. Clear communication avoids this problem and saves everybody time if you want to get something done. The ability to operate as a specialist without isolating yourself from other specialists is a crucial skill in an increasingly fragmented and complex society. If you can't do your job and answer questions about it, then you are effectively not doing your job. Now, if you don't have particularly subtle thoughts (like most of America), or if you style yourself as an ivory-tower logician then this is fine and I wish you luck. But saying that proper spelling and grammar are orthogonal to skill in other disciplines is obtuse at best.

more than 4 years ago
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If Everyone Had To Pass A Particular 101 Course, It Should Be About...

BrotherBeal Re:Few teachers or recruiters in this crowd... (1142 comments)

Proper logic and reasoning are learned by rote, and are orthogonal to skill in any other discipline. End of story. Two can play at the unsubstantiated assertion game.

more than 4 years ago
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"Vegetative State" Patients Can Communicate

BrotherBeal Re:False Positive (347 comments)

That's a good point about this being a misdiagnosis rate - I hadn't thought of it from that angle. Even though I read the article, that point still wasn't terribly clear, so thanks for bringing it up. It's still not clear to me, though, how the spurious brain activity can be ruled out based on what the article described. Yes, you're right - asking a series of ?'s can be much less subject to random bias than asking a ? in isolation. However, is it possible for said spurious brain activity to occur for a longer period of time, enough to throw off multiple questions? What I'm thinking about is a situation analogous to the following. Imagine a kid who, for whatever reason, goes into "hollywood" seizures (uncontrolled body movements, shaking, etc). If you ask such a kid to shake to answer "yes" and then, while he is having a seizure, ask him a series of questions, he's not really answering even though he's displaying the predetermined signal. Now imagine that one these people, who by definition have brain damage, suffers from some sort of condition where that part of his brain lights up like a Christmas tree every so often (similar to a seizure I suppose). If you're looking for activity in the affected region as a signal, you'll see it but its relevance as a signal is completely lost. Is this scenario even possible? Bear in mind that I'm not a neuroscientist. I'm coming at this from the perspective of an interested outsider, so it's HIGHLY likely that I am missing something fundamental. If I am, though - I'd like to know (it's a slow day at work).

more than 4 years ago
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"Vegetative State" Patients Can Communicate

BrotherBeal False Positive (347 comments)

I'm not a neuroscientist, but it seems to me that 4 out of 23 is a pretty low success rate, especially given the kind of indirection the researchers were resorting to in order to elicit the signals they were looking for. How do we know, for example, that a patient doesn't have some kind of spurious activity in the brain area they're using to signal "A"? For that matter, how can we distinguish between "no answer" and a deliberate "B" in the absence of such activity? How can we assume that the patient, who by definition has brain damage, is capable of understanding the question correctly and answering correctly? I agree, this is better than absolutely no communication, but I'm curious how they intend to control for factors like these.

more than 4 years ago
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Parallel Algorithm Leads To Crypto Breakthrough

BrotherBeal Re:How do you know when it's decrypted? (186 comments)

... but I bet you could some how measure how disordered the data stream was and make a guess about weather or not it was encrypted. It seems that encrypted data should also have some level of order to it.

Encryption doesn't work that way, at least not good encryption. The goal of every encryption scheme is to transform a plaintext input into a ciphertext output that is indistinguishable from random noise. Your example of frequency analysis being used to attack ROT13 shows that it's a terrible encryption algorithm because it leaves so much information about the original message embedded in the transformed output. Every time you hear about an encryption scheme being broken, you're hearing about some way to recover information about the plaintext from the ciphertext. That information is what allows adversaries to beat brute-force decryption (although not always by much - a scheme with a keyspace of 2^n is considered broken if an attack is found that requires only 2^n-1 of the keys to be examined).

The OP brings up an interesting point, of knowing when your data is actually decrypted.

This is why a one-time pad is "perfect". A one-time pad leaves absolutely zero information about the original plaintext apart from length (and even that can be obfuscated by null padding). That means that there is no way for an adversary, even through a brute-force attack, to positively identify the original plaintext. Let's say we encrypt "HELLO WORLD" with a one-time pad, and the output is "ZBCHGRTKOP". "ZBCHGRTKOP" could be brute-forced by an adversary and produce "HELLO WORLD", but such an attempt would also produce "BUY MUSTARD" or "URINAL TOWN" or any other string of 10 characters (possibly including nulls - remember padding!). All of these are equally plausible if the one-time pad scheme is implemented perfectly. The point is that, depending on the encryption scheme, in a sense you can't always know that you've done it perfectly. Recreated internal structure is a good signal that you have done it correctly, but if you were trying to decrypt something you knew NOTHING about (couldn't tell it from random noise), you'd have a hell of a time telling whether you screwed up your decryption. Make things any clearer?

more than 4 years ago
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The Cell Phone Has Changed — New Etiquette Needed

BrotherBeal Re:Rules 1 through 7 of using a Cell Phone (585 comments)

Why not just handle that the same way unlicensed drivers are currently handled in the U.S.? A cop isn't going to pull every car over just to make sure that the driver is licensed - the penalty is just much stiffer if you are pulled and found to be unlicensed. In your scenario, if a policeman sees a Porsche barreling down the outside lane and pulls it over, he'll discover that the driver doesn't have an appropriate license and then can take some sort of punitive action.

more than 4 years ago
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As 2010 approaches, I expect the next year ...

BrotherBeal Re:As good as any time to make a change (444 comments)

She knows my feelings about minutiae in general, so I doubt that would surprise her. I could talk to her all day about her academic interests (prehistoric Japanese religion, specifically Shinto before the Chinese came over), but when it comes to centerpieces and flowers she has about thirty seconds to make her point before my brain starts the "smile and nod" routine.

more than 4 years ago
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As 2010 approaches, I expect the next year ...

BrotherBeal As good as any time to make a change (444 comments)

Let's see, I'm ...

1.) ... getting married in May.
2.) ... leaving the South and moving to Boulder in June.
3.) ... watching my fiancee start grad school in August (so she should stop talking about wedding minutiae and start talking about something more interesting)
4.) ... hopefully leaving J2EE behind for a field with fewer idiots soon after.

I have high hopes for 2010.

more than 4 years ago
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The best pizza I have ever had, I found ...

BrotherBeal Worst Pizza Ever (920 comments)

I can say that the worst pizza I ever had was at "Latin Camp" in high school (part of the state governors' school program). It was held at a college campus whose cafeteria must have had a massive surplus of potatoes because every meal involved them in some slightly unnatural way.

The pizza was potato pizza - it was a pizza crust topped with mashed potatoes instead of sauce, and then regular toppings (cheese, pepperoni, veggies, etc). Never have I felt so cheated as when I bit into that first slice.

more than 4 years ago
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If the Comments Are Ugly, the Code Is Ugly

BrotherBeal Re:bad spelling in variables/etc get me (660 comments)

I see this as a corollary to a phrase a Latin professor of mine used to use all the time: "Clarity of grammar is clarity of thought."

If you haven't taken the time to think through what you mean in order to translate it from concepts into words, then there's a high probability that you have missed something at the conceptual level and are hiding it in the noise and ambiguity of language. Misspelled words such as variable names or even misspellings in comments, ESPECIALLY when they're not consistently misspelled, strike me as the same sort of disregard for the rules of the system and throw up a big red flag that something may not be as it should. At best, it's an impediment to grep, but frequently I find that misspellings in and around code mean that there is more work to be done.

more than 4 years ago
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Vegetarian Spider Described

BrotherBeal Re:You don't make friends with salad (162 comments)

So... are your friends vegetables or are you taking the couch potato metaphor a little too seriously?

more than 4 years ago
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iPhone App Wins Microsoft App Contest

BrotherBeal Re:54 hours? (233 comments)

What's that, 21 minutes?

more than 4 years ago
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The Battle Between Purists and Pragmatists

BrotherBeal Re:Purist and pragmatist (213 comments)

Wow, what a bunch of bullshit. RMS is obviously the person most people around here think of when they think "purest".

You, sir, are a fool!

I think Alanis Morissette sang a song about this post...

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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Leaving J2EE Behind

BrotherBeal BrotherBeal writes  |  more than 4 years ago

BrotherBeal (1100283) writes "After three years of corporate development at one of the bailout firms, I've decided that it's time for a change. It's been a learning experience, for sure, but it's getting old and phrases like "manufacturing organizational transformation" are starting to make me nauseous. The place I work at was good for a while, but now it doesn't really have much to offer that would make me stick around. The bailout has frozen salaries for the past two review cycles, which is starting to suck. Management values years-of-service over technical proficiency, meaning that the place is very conducive to the "one year of experience ten times" problem and I frequently answer ?'s from people above me in the corporate food chain. Further, there's just not a whole lot of complexity to the apps we write — just standard J2EE plumbing between web forms and a database. It's not a great environment to continue growing as a software developer, and I'm not ready to "ride it out until retirement" just yet.

What I'm hoping to do is transition into a development role somewhere where I'm not just part of the support staff. Whether this is a "research" role at a lab or a job at a product-developing company, I feel that anything would be better than sticking around in enterprise development. My question is what can be done to get the stain of corporate IT off my resume so I can differentiate myself and get a job at a more technical company? I do plenty of coding at home, but it's mostly on personal projects (most recently an experiment using genetic programming). Has anyone made the jump off the corporate ladder and lived to tell about it? How'd you pull it off?

Thanks!"
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Ditching the Enterprise?

BrotherBeal BrotherBeal writes  |  more than 4 years ago

BrotherBeal (1100283) writes "After three years of corporate development at one of the bailout firms, I've decided that it's time for a change. It's been a learning experience, for sure, but it's getting old and phrases like "manufacturing organizational transformation" are starting to make me nauseous. The place I work at was good for a while, but now it doesn't really have much to offer that would make me stick around. The bailout has frozen salaries for the past two review cycles, which is starting to suck. Management values years-of-service over technical proficiency, meaning that the place is very conducive to the "one year of experience ten times" problem and I frequently answer ?'s from people above me in the corporate food chain. Further, there's just not a whole lot of complexity to the apps we write — just standard J2EE plumbing between web forms and a database. It's not a great environment to continue growing as a software developer, and I'm not ready to "ride it out until retirement" just yet.

What I'm hoping to do is transition into a development role somewhere where I'm not just part of the support staff. Whether this is a "research" role at a lab or a job at a product-developing company, I feel that anything would be better than sticking around in enterprise development. My question is what can be done to get the stain of corporate IT off my resume so I can differentiate myself and get a job at a more technical company? I do plenty of coding at home, but it's mostly on personal projects (most recently an experiment using genetic programming). Has anyone made the jump off the corporate ladder and lived to tell about it? How'd you pull it off?

Thanks!"
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Ditching The Enterprise

BrotherBeal BrotherBeal writes  |  more than 4 years ago

BrotherBeal writes "Hi, Slashdot -

My fiancee has recently been admitted to a graduate program in Boulder, CO, which is far enough away that I have a good opportunity to "reinvent myself" as a developer. I have until this coming summer to find a new job, and I'm hoping to change to something different. I currently work as a software developer for one of the big bailout firms, and after 4 years of this digital plumbing crap, the enterprise domain is wearing terribly thin. I enjoy coding, but I'm looking for something more challenging than wading through various drafts of requirement specs and customer e-mails. I got an M.S. in computer science recently, with focuses in networking and security, in an effort to open doors to more interesting work, but my professors have no contacts outside of academia and I'm not interested in a Ph.D until my fiancee finishes hers.

My question to the community is how can a person switch domains? Can I get the stain of enterprise software off my resume and get into something different? Salary isn't as important to me as the ability to get paid to learn a new domain and to wrestle with problems worth solving. Does anyone have any success stories or suggestions?"
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Entry Level Developer Advice

BrotherBeal BrotherBeal writes  |  more than 6 years ago

BrotherBeal (1100283) writes "I've been pegged to help lead a discussion regarding how to get a software development job to a mixed audience of undergrads and my fellow graduate students. The teacher's rationale, as best as I can tell, is that I have practical development experience (2 years as a software engineer) and few others in the program do. The problem is that I am several rungs on the corporate ladder away from hiring authority, so I'm not really sure what to say. Right now, the only advice I can offer is "don't be a moron — apply that everywhere in your life, and you won't get too far off track" — but I'm fairly certain people will want more concrete pointers. Does anyone out here have anything they would like to tell the kids who will be sending resumes sometime this year?"

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