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Comments

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FBI Investigates 'Sophisticated' Cyber Attack On JP Morgan, 4 More US Banks

DoofusOfDeath At this point... (29 comments)

I can only assume the NSA has become self-funding, and is doing so by hacking banks.

about half an hour ago
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Statistics Losing Ground To CS, Losing Image Among Students

DoofusOfDeath Hard to do right, easy to not notice you're wrong (105 comments)

I'm not very trained in statistics, but I've read more than my fair share of academic computer science papers over the years.

Even with my limited training in statistics, I've known enough to be appalled by the errant statistical reasoning used. Or even not used. I.e., "We don't know how many times to run a program to get a 'valid' average running time, so we ran it three times. Here's the average: ..." The authors seemingly aren't just ignorant of how to get the answer; they often seem to have not thought through what questions they're trying to answer in the first place with their measurements and resulting statistics.

I think a few problems come into play here:

  • The mathematics of statistics can be hard.
  • Thinking through the meanings of statistics requires careful thought, especially for experimental design and/or system performance characterization. Many CS practitioners would prefer to not invest mental energy in this aspect of their work because they don't enjoy it; it's a distraction to what they want to do.
  • Because so many people in CS are bad at statistics, peer reviewers tend to let it slide. This helps foster a culture problem. If I'm under the wire to get a paper published and I'm near deadline, do I take an extra 20 hours to get the statistics right? Especially knowing that I'm judged by the number of published papers, and that the peer reviewers won't notice or care about poor statistical reasoning?
  • It's easy to make statistical reasoning errors without noticing it. Especially if you're not surrounded by statisticians.

Despite CS majors thinking we're so smart about mathematical issues, I think this might be one area where that confidence is delusional. I suspect most psychology majors who paid attention in their Experimental Design courses are more capable in the appropriate mathematics than are most CS majors.

yesterday
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If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

DoofusOfDeath Re:What's the point? (500 comments)

You question the conscientiousness of the programmers in the first paragraph and assume it in the second.

You should see the crazy type casting that happens in production code to please the IDE and/or compiler. It may or may not be the right thing.

Then there's the cases where it is actually OK if not all objects passed in support all of the methods. Not Applicable might be the right outcome of a method call if the caller is prepared for that possibility.

FWIW, I was never trying to argue that a language like Java is better than a language like Python in every circumstance.

There are tradeoffs, and I'm just saying that for some systems, especially large complicated ones, I've found the benefits of static typing to outweigh the greater effort that's needed to make certain kinds of changes.

As I'm sure we all know, a badly designed program in either kind of language can make the grass on the other side of the fence look greener.

2 days ago
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If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

DoofusOfDeath Re:What's the point? (500 comments)

Duck typing is a mixed bag. You can make the requirements clearer in comments and the doc string. It also has great advantages in being more concerned with attributes than declared type or lineage. It allows modules to deal with classes that weren't even imagined when they were written.

The problem is that by an large, code can't be automatically checked against doc strings. (If it could be, then you'd just have a classic type system again.)

As far as supporting unplanned extensibility, it seems to me that interfaces (or pure virtual base classes in the case of C++) provide that functionality in more statically typed languages, so I don't see that as an advantage peculiar to duck-typing.

3 days ago
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If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

DoofusOfDeath Re:What's the point? (500 comments)

If speed is not absolutely critical, there's plenty of "scripting" languages that get the job done more easily with less code.

A big problem with duck-typed scripting languages, such as Python, is that the absence of explicitly stated type requirements in the source code. Using types in function signatures and variable declarations is an extremely useful tool for developers to indicate not only how a system is decomposed, but also what potential future usages they intend to support vs. not support.

I've worked on reasonably large Python, C++, and Java projects. The Python code was by far the hardest to make sense of due to the duck typing and other Python idioms (metaclass, i.e. self-modifying code).

3 days ago
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If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

DoofusOfDeath A stupid consideration (500 comments)

What good engineer gives a f**k about what language "cool", aside from considering his/her ability to hire hipsters to staff the project?

If you're worried about the "coolness" of a language when doing your day job, you're almost certainly doing your job poorly.

3 days ago
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New Research Suggests Cancer May Be an Intrinsic Property of Cells

DoofusOfDeath Re:So what they need, then... (185 comments)

Whatever knowledge you transfer to your child[ren] will be your long lasting legacy left behind.

Well, not if Jesus or Mohammed was correct.

about a week ago
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New Research Suggests Cancer May Be an Intrinsic Property of Cells

DoofusOfDeath Re: "Not eradicated" isn't needed (185 comments)

Not sure what you mean by a "deep evolutionary pathway".

It seems to me that the pathways exist regardless of how we came to have our current physiology - evolved long ago or just recently. It's not obvious to me that there's a correlation between (a) how long living creatures have had such pathways and (b) how easy/hard it is to treat cancer in someone who has it.

about a week ago
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Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board

DoofusOfDeath Re:Microsoft is a spent force (142 comments)

Doesn't adding the keyword "porn" to the Google search stop all of that filtering?

about a week ago
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Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board

DoofusOfDeath Re:Microsoft is a spent force (142 comments)

Then there's Bing, who's only claim to fame is being the world's greatest search engine. For. Porn.

Wait... it is? Seriously? I've got a friend who actually cares about this. I'll "let him know".

about a week ago
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Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

DoofusOfDeath Re:wouldn't that be... (376 comments)

How many of them ended up in prison?

about two weeks ago
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Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

DoofusOfDeath Re:CFAA (376 comments)

Extortion laws ought to apply here as well.

Right, and now. IANAL, but it sounds to me like this already counts as criminal conspiracy.

about two weeks ago
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Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

DoofusOfDeath Re:As long as... (376 comments)

You can sue for damages. Please provide documentation of monetary damages resulting from being disconnected from the internet.

Actually, I'm contracted with my ISP to provide Internet access. Could Rightscorp be sued for tortuous interference with a business relationship?

about two weeks ago
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Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft

DoofusOfDeath Re:Microsoft (578 comments)

And of course Microsoft now likes to act like they are an open source company that believes in open standards. Maybe they do,

Well, let's test that. Let's ask them to open-source and de-patent (if there are any) the protocols used between the MS SQL client and server, and to perpetually keep that protocol spec completely open and unencumbered.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Would You Pay For Websites Without Trolls?

DoofusOfDeath Re:Moderating Trolls (381 comments)

Sometimes, do we see the discussion turn to towards political hate speech.

Depending on your definition of "hate speech", I may want to attack one of your (possible) premises. It sounds like you're denigrating the concept of "hate speech". I have two problems with that.

First, even using the term "hate speech" seems to me as playing into the hands of authoritarian groups which would like to limit free speech and dissenting thought. At best, using the term "hate speech" seems intended to proscribe certain views as outside the pale of reasonable discussion. At the worst, it's an excuse for bringing criminal charges.

Second, I find it hard to respect someone who doesn't hate certain things. I hate the sexual molestation of children. I hate people who peddle drugs to kids. I hate drunk drivers. I hate politicians who lie to get the votes, knowing they don't plan to fulfill their promises. I hate people who torture their prisoners without literally a ticking-time-bomb dilemma. Is that hate speech? If so, what would you feel about someone who didn't hate those things?

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Would You Pay For Websites Without Trolls?

DoofusOfDeath Re:Don't read the comments (381 comments)

With the exception of sites like Ars and /. comments posted are generally of a lower mentality level than the article.

Yeah, Slashdot articles are really stupid!

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Would You Pay For Websites Without Trolls?

DoofusOfDeath Re:Very subjective (381 comments)

I agree. I've made a few Slashdot posts that were contrary to the majority view, but meant in good faith and with the goal of advancing the discussion, which ended being modded as Trolls. Fortunately this happens to me rarely, suggesting that only a small fraction of moderators

My experience on BoingBoing was much worse. There, even after having a discussion with admins about why I made my comment, they still labelled me a troll and banned me on the site. I think any fair-minded person would have judged me to be not trolling - as far as I can tell that administrator's definition of troll included views that he/she didn't agree with.

about two weeks ago
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Companies That Don't Understand Engineers Don't Respect Engineers

DoofusOfDeath sexist (371 comments)

Whereas in fact any engineer worth her salt will tell you that she

So you're saying that the only engineers worth their salt are females? That's insanely sexist.

about two weeks ago
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The Benefits of Inequality

DoofusOfDeath Re:always a lack of middle ground (254 comments)

It is a common problem with absolutists. They think everything is binary when it's nested case statements with table-driven variables.

It's a problem wth all absolutists? ;)

about two weeks ago
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The Benefits of Inequality

DoofusOfDeath Re:This is not evidence; this highly simplified mo (254 comments)

I was about to write the same thing (sorry, no points to mod you up).

About the strongest claims from evolutionary sociologists / psychologists / etc. that I'm willing to entertain are of the form "We can see how X could have led to an evolutionary benefit when we assume their world operated like Y. So, if the world really did operate like Y, then maybe evolutionary pressures were a reason X was true." Modulo the plausibility of X and Y having been actually true for a significant fraction of the population being discussed.

I've sometimes wondered if I'm being too hard on those academics because I don't fully understand their claims, or because they know stuff that I don't. But I find it completely plausible that their community is simply engaged in a huge group-think circle-jerk.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Choosing which OSS database project to help

DoofusOfDeath DoofusOfDeath writes  |  about a year ago

DoofusOfDeath (636671) writes "I've done a good bit of SQL development / tuning in the past. After being away from the database world for a while to finish grad school, I'm about ready to get back in the game. I want to start contributing to some OSS database project, both for fun and perhaps to help my employment prospects in western Europe.

My problem is choosing which OSS DB to help with. MySQL is the most popular, so getting involved with it would be most helpful to my employment prospects. But its list of fundamental design flaws seems so severe that I can't respect it as a database.

I'm attracted to the robust correctness requirements of PostgreSQL, but there don't seem to be many prospective employers using is. So while I'd enjoy working on it, I don't think it would be very helpful to my employment prospects.

Any suggestions?"
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Kickstarter for Linux version of Defense Grid 2

DoofusOfDeath DoofusOfDeath writes  |  more than 2 years ago

DoofusOfDeath (636671) writes "Awesome news for those of us who loved the game Defense Grid, and who wanted a sequel, and/or want to see more high-quality games on Linux. The developer of Defense Grid has started a Kickstarter project to develop Defense Grid 2. But even better for us Linux (and Mac) gamers, if they get to the $750,000 mark in contributions, they commit to a Mac and Linux port as well."
Link to Original Source
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Best country to avoid software patents?

DoofusOfDeath DoofusOfDeath writes  |  more than 2 years ago

DoofusOfDeath (636671) writes "What's the best country for computer scientists who just want to create, rather than worry about software patents?

Even though I'm nearly done with my PhD in computer science, I'm less enthusiastic than ever about my work, because of software patents. I used to be filled with wonder at the possibilities of what we could create with software, but now I just expect innovation to be rewarded with a patent lawsuit and crushing fines."
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Best way to store imporant personal data?

DoofusOfDeath DoofusOfDeath writes  |  more than 5 years ago

DoofusOfDeath (636671) writes "I'm about to digitize lots of old family photos and videos. At some point the digital versions will be the only ones we can find. What's the best way to store large amounts of personal data that's practical, affordable, and minimizes the risk of losing the data?"
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Google revoking DRM permissions on bought videos!

DoofusOfDeath DoofusOfDeath writes  |  about 7 years ago

DoofusOfDeath (636671) writes "A few months ago I purchased a great Discovery Channel video from Google's downloadable video service. Sure I can't media-shift it, but I was willing to trade away some fair-use rights so my kids could see the video. I paid cash, they give me the video. End of story, right?

Wrong. Today I got this email (see below). It just goes to show that with DRM, there's little limit to the evil that can be done to you:

Hello,

As a valued Google user, we're contacting you with some important information about the videos you've purchased or rented from Google Video. In an effort to improve all Google services, we will no longer offer the ability to buy or rent videos for download from Google Video, ending the DTO/DTR (download-to-own/rent) program. This change will be effective August 15, 2007.

To fully account for the video purchases you made before July 18, 2007, we are providing you with a Google Checkout bonus for $20. Your bonus expires in 60 days, and you can use it at the stores listed here: http://www.google.com/checkout/signupwelcome.html. The minimum purchase amount must be equal to or greater than your bonus amount, before shipping and tax.

After August 15, 2007, you will no longer be able to view your purchased or rented videos.

If you have further questions or requests, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

The Google Video Team

Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
"

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