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Fighting the Culture of 'Worse Is Better'

JanneM Re:Huh (240 comments)

> This is why we are still waiting for Perl 6, if it ever gets released.

I suspect in the case of Perl 6 (and perhaps also for Python) it may have been better to give the language a new name, and allow even more radical changes. Keeping the name strongly signals that it's still the same language. Breaking compatibility is exactly what makes it a different one.

about a week ago
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Fighting the Culture of 'Worse Is Better'

JanneM Huh (240 comments)

So.. preserving backwards compatibility and interoperability across versions is a bad thing? If he's unhappy with the feature set of C++ (and I wouldn't blame him for that), then how about simply picking up a different language instead? That's what a new, non-compatible C++ version would be in any case.

Look at how great it has worked out for Python. It's been six years since the only mildly incompatible version 3 was released, and it has still not managed to become dominant over the legacy version 2. A more radical break would almost certainly have had an even tougher road ahead.

about a week ago
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Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science

JanneM Re:I'm confused, shortage or glut (283 comments)

If there was a geniune shortage, you'd see sharp increases in salary levels. There's just a shortage of qualified people willing to work for much less than they're worth.

about two weeks ago
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2014 Nobel Prize In Physics Awarded To the Inventors of the Blue LED

JanneM Re:Useful but physics? (243 comments)

From Alfred Nobels will: "[...]which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; [...]"

So, discovery or invention. Doesn't have to be fundamental science, and can indeed be a pure engineering achievement.

about two weeks ago
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Japan's Shinkansen Bullet Trains Celebrate 50th Anniversary

JanneM Re:Hai! (111 comments)

That piece is kind of crap. The main reason is that the summer holidays are over. The kids are in school (and busy with clubs, homework and so on on the weekends) and the parents are working. And as most bathers are gone, so are the drink vendors, the equipment renters and so on.You'll still find people on beaches, just not many.

about three weeks ago
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Tetris To Be Made Into a Live Action Film

JanneM Re:There's no script. (137 comments)

I would imagine that this will be the kind of a movie that will be in the five dollar bin at Walmart's within a month of release. And there will be a lot of them that simply stay in that bin.

At least they'll be neatly packed.

about three weeks ago
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Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

JanneM Re:Fine. Legislate for externalities. (488 comments)

"Indeed, in Japan, only the western half of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu have enough sunny days to justify large-scale rooftop solar installations."

Which is why one of the largest solar plants opened near Sendai in northern Honshu a couple years back? What conditions are profitable depend on the technology you use, and the cost of production. And as solar cost decreases and efficiency increases more locations will be realistic.

about three weeks ago
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Update: At Least 31 People Feared Dead After Japan Volcano Erupts

JanneM Re:No warning? (54 comments)

There was some seismic activity for a period of time before it happened - but this is Japan; there's always seismic activity happening. According to interviewed researchers there really was no warning beforehand.

about three weeks ago
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Japan's Mt. Ontake Erupts, Stranding Hundreds of Hikers

JanneM Re:Why didn't they seek protection? (41 comments)

The video is deceiving; that trail is much steeper than it looks. Slowly stumbling downwards is pretty much all they could do. Also, most deaths from eruptions are either from poisonous gas or from heat. A small hut will shield you from neither. But both gas concentration and heat will disspiate by distance, so simply trying to get away from it may well be your best chance to survive.

about three weeks ago
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DHL Goes Live With 'Parcelcopter' Drone Delivery Service

JanneM Re:Copter data (92 comments)

So why are people generally using quadcopters for autonomous systems? What's the disadvantage of a single-rotor copter when you're doing autonomous flight? I can imagine that perhaps it's a size issue - quadcopters are lighter or cheaper or more efficient below a certain size or when indoors? Or is it much more difficult to write a reliable control system for a single-rotor system?

about three weeks ago
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DHL Goes Live With 'Parcelcopter' Drone Delivery Service

JanneM Re:Copter data (92 comments)

Could they handle that weight for such a distance, though? And in very rough weather, including rain and strong headwinds?

about three weeks ago
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DHL Goes Live With 'Parcelcopter' Drone Delivery Service

JanneM Copter data (92 comments)

Here's some data on the hardware, from http://ca.reuters.com/article/...

* 65 km/h peak speed, and will cover the distance in about 15-30 minutes;
* It weighs 5kg, and can carry a payload of up to 1.2kg

With 1.2kg it can certainly carry a complement of medicines or even small, urgently needed hardware and parts (batteries or spare bits for medical equipment for instance). Not general use of cours, but it does look like more than just a stunt.

about three weeks ago
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Small Restaurant Out-Maneuvers Yelp In Reviews War

JanneM Re:The review ecosystem is good and truly broken.. (249 comments)

Why? Maybe I simply only review things I like. Why would that devalue my reviews?

This. One reason really low and really high reviews are much more common than they ought to be is that people only bother voicing an opinion if they feel strongly (positive or negative) about something. Another is that once they do, they'll tend to exaggerate their evaluation to really drive home how they feel.

My suspicion is that the only stable scale is a simple "really liked it/really disliked it" up/down system. Then somehow weigh that according to the proportion of customers or buyers that actually bother to review. That depends of having a decently good estimate of that proportion though. The likes of Amazon have that for their products; for restaurants it'd be hard to impossible,

about a month ago
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Emails Cast Unflattering Light On Internal Politics of Healthcare.gov Rollout

JanneM Poor Rollo (392 comments)

I feel sorry for Rollo. He seems to get all the blame ever since he stated working for that website project.

about 1 month ago
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Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

JanneM Take the long view (494 comments)

Charlie Stross recently posted a very good take on this: This is a permanent change. Whatever happens during the first few years is basically irrelevant, compared to the long-term results. Did Norway separating from Sweden cause short-term economic upheaval? Does that matter at all a century later?

This is a long-term change, not a short.term one. Any voter should consider the probable situation twenty or fourty years from now, not whatever happens in a year or two.

about a month ago
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The MOOC Revolution That Wasn't

JanneM Re:MOOC is designed like a physical classroom (182 comments)

"Also some of the science and tech courses are very demanding but the teachers don't simplify it leading to many whooshing sounds for the student throughout the courses. Such courses could benefit from a simplified overview of the course material."

How many employers would like to hire people that can't understand the actual content and need "simplified overview" to get a grade? If you really don't grasp it to the point where you can actually apply the math for new, novel problems, then you don't actually know it, do you?

MOOCs have a serious credibility problem already. The very last thing they need is to dumb things down. If it becomes common knowledge that, say, an engineering MOOC graduate can't even handle a system of differential equations in an intelligent manner, or don't understand the implication of Green's function, then the credits will become truly worthless.

about a month ago
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When Scientists Give Up

JanneM Re:If you think medical funding is bad (348 comments)

It does depend on the size of the field as well, though, as well as the funding. I can well imagine astronomy having major problems; everybody has heard of astronomy, and lots of people dream of being astronomers.

A friend of mine is working in paleogeology. As you might imagine there's not a huge amount of money in the field. On the other hand, few people have heard of it either, and there aren't that many people dreaming of working there. There's no movies starring daring paleogeogists with hat and bullwhip in hand ducking poison arrows and swinging across pits of snakes in order to determine the local sea bed temperature during the cambrian. The end result is that funding is pretty stable and dependable. People that are qualified and willing find funding. I bet there's a fair amount of other obscure fields in a similar situation.

about a month ago
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UK's National Health Service Moves To NoSQL Running On an Open-Source Stack

JanneM Re:Holy shit! (198 comments)

You could write an open source application in C++ rather than the much less mainstream R language and you'd have lots of people ready skilled to maintain it.

You may be right in general. But R is not a general-purpose language. It's a programmable tool for statistical computing; you'd have to spend a lot of time to reimplement a set of high-quality statistical libraries to do the same. Doing that correctly is very non-trivial and not quick. Very similar to saying you can replace Matlab with your own C++ code.
 

about a month ago
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New EU Rules Will Limit Vacuum Cleaners To 1600W

JanneM Re:Do the math (338 comments)

Wow, that's a lot. I wonder why they allow so much power per outlet?

Because of all those damn industrial vaccuum cleaners.

about 2 months ago
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Switching Game Engines Halfway Through Development

JanneM Re:Can we rid the word of "Gelling"? (127 comments)

One function of special vocabulary is for specialists to easily communicate. But another, important, social function is as a badge of in-group membership. If you use the words correctly (from the point of view of the group) you show that you belong, and that you probably know and understand all the other explicit and implicit rules of the group. If the word use spreads too far it loses this function and the group needs to find new words and expressions instead.

You dislike "gelling". You dislike "paradigm shifts". It would probably be a fairly risk-free bet on what you think of expressions like "optics" (as in "the optics of this decision is good") and the like. You dislike these words and refuse to use them. Which signals to management people that you are not management and should not be treated as part of their in-group. "gelling" works exactly as intended, in other words.

Asking for words to not be used like this is futile. It would be like asking people to no longer care about fashion (another in-group signal) or to not form groups of like-minded people at all.

about 2 months ago

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