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Comments

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Interviews: Ask Bjarne Stroustrup About Programming and C++

J. J. Ramsey About your "two kinds of languages" comment (427 comments)

You've said, "There are only two kinds of languages: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody uses." Why does this tend to happen?

about two weeks ago
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Why You Shouldn't Use Spreadsheets For Important Work

J. J. Ramsey Re:Blame the tool... (422 comments)

there are no bad languages, just bad programmers.

There are, however, languages that make it far easier to write code that is less readable and harder to maintain. As a specific example, compare Fortran 77 with Fortran 90. I can write the latter without any need for numerical statement labels. I can write a straightforward "DO WHILE" loop in Fortran 90, while in Fortran 77, I'd have to use the dreaded GOTO to get the same effect. Aside from basic stuff like that, I can write formulas in Fortran 90 with whole arrays, which can really help readability. In short, it is far easier to write clear code in Fortran 90 than in Fortran 77.

Do they seriously think that if those models were written in C, Java or Perl they would have been magnitudes better?

Heck, yes! For one thing, in any of those languages, separation of code and data -- something which spreadsheets actively discourage -- would be much easier.

about 3 months ago
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Why Scientists Are Still Using FORTRAN in 2014

J. J. Ramsey Re:Because C and C++ multidimensional arrays suck (634 comments)

FORTRAN was *NOT* designed to support multidimensional arrays from the beginning. That only came in Fortran 90.

Not true. Multidimensional array were around at least as far back as Fortran 77. Now what is new in Fortran 90 are the ways to manipulate those arrays. In Fortran 77, one could do arithmetic on elements of arrays but not on arrays as a whole, so, for example, adding two arrays in Fortran 77 required DO loops. In Fortran 90, though, one can add arrays A and B with the expression "A + B".

about 4 months ago
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Why Scientists Are Still Using FORTRAN in 2014

J. J. Ramsey Re:Arrays! (634 comments)

Boost's multi_array is useful, but it's not really aimed at numeric calculations. That's more the territory of Boost's uBlas, and even then, there are competing libraries like MTL4 or Eigen that may have better performance for that purpose.

about 4 months ago
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Actual Results of Crimean Secession Vote Leaked

J. J. Ramsey Re:well (557 comments)

Actually, I think of the Russian occupation of Crimea as more analogous to the German occupation of the Sudetenland. The pretext for Germany occupying the Sudetenland was the presence of the ethnic Germans there, while for Russia, the pretext was the presence of ethnic Russians.

about 4 months ago
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Free Can Make You Bleed: the Underresourced Open Source

J. J. Ramsey Re:Slant: look who is writing the article (175 comments)

There's also the matter that OpenSSL and OpenSSH are different animals. OpenSSH is audited, much as OpenBSD is itself.

about 4 months ago
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How the FCC Plans To Save the Internet By Destroying It

J. J. Ramsey Re: Congressional fix? (217 comments)

You trade pre-existing support now for death panels later. Have fun.

Repeating as fact something that Politifact had rated as "Lie of the Year" for 2009 does not help your credibility.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Are Linux Desktop Users More Pragmatic Now Or Is It Inertia?

J. J. Ramsey Re:*nix desktops (503 comments)

There are a few catches with MacPorts, though:

1) Installing and updating ports usually requires compilation. There generally aren't ready-to-download binary packages. For a single package, this may not be a big deal, unless it drags in a bunch of other packages that also have to be compiled.

2) If one upgrades OS X, the MacPorts maintainers recommend deleting and reinstalling MacPorts for the new version of OS X. I'm not sure this is always necessary, but I've preferred not to risk it.

3) A given version of MacPorts targets certain OS X versions, and there's a lag time between when the latest release of OS X comes out and when a version of MacPorts comes out that targets that release.

There's also Fink, which shares problem #3 with MacPorts. It's supposed to have binary packages available, but when I tried it recently, that didn't work out, and it acted much like MacPorts, that is, downloading source and compiling it.

about 7 months ago
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GitHub Takes Down Satirical 'C Plus Equality' Language

J. J. Ramsey Attempting to apply feminism where it does not fit (575 comments)

Feminism, in just about all its various forms, is about relationships among human beings, especially where those relationships concern women and girls. Programming, on the other hand, is about human-machine relationships, in particular about how humans -- who tend to think in very fuzzy ways -- can control and manipulate computing devices that "think" in very exacting ways are are very good at doing what they are told rather than what we want them to do. Feminism is certainly relevant to how programmers interact with one another, but not so much with the programming itself.

about 8 months ago
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Physicist Peter Higgs: No University Would Employ Me Today

J. J. Ramsey Re:But what system does he suggest instead? (308 comments)

At least for universities, there's an alternative way that professors who don't publish a lot can still be productive: they can, you know, teach students. That is nominally what universities are for, anyway.

about 9 months ago
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Free Software Foundation Announces 2013 Holiday Giving Guide

J. J. Ramsey Re:What awful gifts... (104 comments)

If you're going to claim that the ThinkPenguin laptops are "garbage," could you at least say why they are garbage, e.g. build quality, feature set, whether one can replace some parts oneself, and so on? Otherwise it just looks like a dumb flame.

about 9 months ago
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HealthCare.gov: What Went Wrong?

J. J. Ramsey Re:bitch and moan (400 comments)

From Kevin Drum's blog:

Over the past three years, insurance companies have swapped their plans around so fast and so often that virtually no one today has a plan more than a couple of years old—something that seems an awful lot like a deliberate effort to evade Obamacare's original intent that most individual policies would be grandfathered and therefore remain available to existing customers who wanted to keep them. [Footnote: Plans in existence before March 23, 2010, are grandfathered, which makes them exempt from most of the new requirements of Obamacare. However, if your insurance company switched you into a "better" plan after that date, it's not grandfathered and can be canceled at any time.] Now, having engineered a situation where most current policies aren't grandfathered, millions of people are getting letters canceling their existing plans and being told that the replacement is far more expensive.

So basically, these insurance companies sending out these cancellation notices were gaming the system so that they could both undermine the law and blame it for "forcing" their customers to buy more expensive coverage.

about 10 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Language To Learn For Scientific Computing?

J. J. Ramsey Re:matlab (465 comments)

The catch with Matlab is that outside of academia, it is expensive. If one's workplace has the licenses for it, great. If not, it may be better to make do with Octave, or Numpy & Scipy.

about 10 months ago
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Windows 8.1 RTM Trickling Out, With Start Menu and Boot-to-Desktop

J. J. Ramsey Re:Too little too late (496 comments)

Why are you so adamantly frenetic over something you could fix easily yourself, when that's torn down, the response is about an administratively locked down machine ...

Guess where I use Windows? At work, on an administratively locked down machine.

1 year,4 days
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Windows 8.1 RTM Trickling Out, With Start Menu and Boot-to-Desktop

J. J. Ramsey Re:Too little too late (496 comments)

I'd say that the point is more that Microsoft took an interface that worked fine, namely the Start Menu, and replaced it with something that, for the most part, did not work as well. Third-party tools to customize an interface should be niceties, not a cure for someone else's screw-up.

1 year,4 days
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Windows 8.1 RTM Trickling Out, With Start Menu and Boot-to-Desktop

J. J. Ramsey Re:Too little too late (496 comments)

You can fix it yourself if you administer the machine. However, at work, people often can't do that because they are--rightfully--not given the access rights to do so.

1 year,4 days
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Microsoft Stock Drops 11% In a Day

J. J. Ramsey Re:Metro UI (467 comments)

Why would you *have* to use Launchpad? I use OS X, and don't use Launchpad at all. The Applications folder didn't go away, and it's easy to remove Launchpad from the Dock. That's far less intrusive than what I've read about the Metro UI.

about a year ago
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Verizon Worker Arrested For Copying Customer's Nude Pictures

J. J. Ramsey Re:Needed: a "Stupid" Law (282 comments)

"I'm sorry, but what in the hell did you expect??"

That the "dweeb" at the phone store would (gasp!) behave professionally and not invade a customer's privacy?

about 2 years ago
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Copyright Industry Calls For Broad Search Engine Controls

J. J. Ramsey Why bring in Google instead of the cops? (421 comments)

The copyright holders are alleging that Pirate Bay, isoHunt, etc., are engaging in illegal activities, right? Then why not get the proper authorities involved to take down the people behind sites like Pirate Bay, especially since that's already worked against Megaupload? Even if this wasn't completely successful, it would make sites like Pirate Bay less of a presence on the Internet and thus show up less prominently on search engines. Why have Google and Bing be the police when you can just let the police be the police?

more than 2 years ago

Submissions

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Sweatshop conditions at Amazon's warehouses

J. J. Ramsey J. J. Ramsey writes  |  more than 2 years ago

J. J. Ramsey (658) writes "An article by Spencer Soper from The Morning Call spotlights a dangerous working environment at Amazon's Lehigh Valley warehouse: 'An emergency room doctor in June called federal regulators to report an "unsafe environment" after he treated several Amazon warehouse workers for heat-related problems. The doctor's report was echoed by warehouse workers who also complained to regulators, including a security guard who reported seeing pregnant employees suffering in the heat.... ' Of course, the word from the Amazon spokesperson is, 'The safety and welfare of our employees is our No. 1 priority,' and a corporate spokesperson would never lie. Right?"
Link to Original Source
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J. J. Ramsey J. J. Ramsey writes  |  more than 7 years ago

J. J. Ramsey writes "Talk.Origins is an archive with thousands of pages exposing creationist pseudoscience. Rather mysteriously, Google pulled the plug on its search engine, only giving the vague reason: "No pages from your site are currently included in Google's index due to violations of the webmaster guidelines." This may have been triggered by a recent cracking of the site that added "hidden links to non-topical sites," but curiously enough, Google won't say just what the violations were. As Wesley R. Elsberry, put it, "My mission, whether I liked it or not, was to find and fix whatever problem the TOA [Talk.Origins Archive] might have, with no guidance as to what the problem was and nothing at all about where to start looking.... I was extremely lucky. The damage to my site was limited and in the first place that I happened to look. Other honest webmasters might not be so lucky. They may have to undertake an arduous process of vetting pages, essentially having to second-guess the mind of the cracker in trying to locate a problem that Google knows the exact location of." This was probably a bad decision on Google's part, since Talk.Origins moved its business to Yahoo!. Oops.

Hat tip to blogger Larry Moran."

Journals

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