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'Just Let Me Code!'

Rob Riggs Re: Just let me do brain surgery! (368 comments)

The surgeon knows his job and does it with great freedom. He/She 'just do' brain surgery

Nobody would survive a brain surgery if a physician would have to go through the same hurdles as a professional programmer

Very true. By the same token, by the time your average programmer was done with your brain surgery, you'd have toenails growing out of your asshole for some inexplicable reason. "Oh, we'll fix that in the next surgery." *That* is why we have "clueless" administrators pre-approving their shit.

The brain surgeon has to be worried about malpractice lawsuits; the programmer does not. The brain surgeon requires board certification; the programmer does not. The brain surgeon requires twice the education and years of formal, on the job training before he is ever allowed to operate; your average programmer thinks he/she can write shit-hot code before they even graduate.

about a week ago

Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

Rob Riggs Let's try this on for size... (608 comments)

The bigger injustice is that mathematics has become an elite: a vocation requiring rare talents, grueling training, and total dedication. The way things are today if you want to be a mathematician you had best be someone like me on the autism spectrum who has spent their entire life mastering vast realms of arcane knowledge — and enjoys it. Normal humans are effectively excluded from contributing to the field of mathematics. The real injustice of mathematics inequality is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Yeah... that feels about right.

about three weeks ago

Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

Rob Riggs Re:They don't care about the cards (353 comments)

Congratulations, you get to go to the ATM, carry around cash, and pay more(*) for your stuff.

You pay more for your stuff if your privacy is worthless. But, in all honesty, if you purchase anything online, your privacy is toast in the U.S.

about three weeks ago

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

Rob Riggs There are no complelling arguments... (143 comments)

Emerging? They were emerging a decade ago. They have emerged. Look, if the company is, as you say, "set in its ways", that is a cultural problem. Unless you are an executive that gets to set goals and compensation, you have very little influence over it. If that is not you, either stay and live with what you have, or leave for greener pastures. The basic question you have to ask yourself is "how will staying here using these outdated tools affect my lifetime earnings potential?" Put another way: "are they paying me enough to put up with this shit?" That is my prime criteria for deciding whether to stay at any job. Your job is to make recommendations. I assume you have already done that and been shot down. Decision time: should I stay or should I go.

about a month ago

Elon Musk: I'll Put a Human On Mars By 2026

Rob Riggs Re:Science Fiction (275 comments)

You're right that there needs to be a 'real reason', but we can say the same thing about, say, Australia.

Are you suggesting a Martian penal colony? I don't see that ending well for anyone.

about a month and a half ago

US Supreme Court Invalidates Patent For Being Software Patent

Rob Riggs Re:Oh please please please (220 comments)

Nope. That was on the Internet. That is completely different.

How about "on a smartphone"? Surely I'm the first person to ever think of that.

Or "on a plane", "in a car", "just like that, but yellow", "at the beach", "indoors", "during a snowstorm", or "while watching Pigs in Space"?

about a month and a half ago

Freecode Freezeup

Rob Riggs Re:Move to sourceforge? (62 comments)

How will visiting sourceforge help me see summaries of new software releases? Guess I'm confused.

Sourceforge is where open source projects go to die. That's the only summary you need.

about a month and a half ago

New Evidence For Oceans of Water Deep In the Earth

Rob Riggs Re:Ingredients for water? (190 comments)

What you originally said was "we'd find a way", not that we would "learn why it's just not possible." We already know why FTL travel is not possible. I was pointing out the absurdity of your original statement.

about a month and a half ago

New Evidence For Oceans of Water Deep In the Earth

Rob Riggs Re:Ingredients for water? (190 comments)

If man can dream it, he can achieve it.

If we really wanted to, we'd find a way.

I can haz FTL travel now?

about a month and a half ago

Are the Glory Days of Analog Engineering Over?

Rob Riggs Econ 101 (236 comments)

It is a simple economic problem. How well does it pay?

about a month and a half ago

NASA Money Crunch Means Trouble For Spitzer Space Telescope

Rob Riggs Re:Endorse James Webb. Do NOT even mention Sptizer (107 comments)

It was determined that a single anthrax spore that took to the wind in DC traveled to Baltimore and killed an elederly woman during the attack by that nut-job using weaponized anthrax from one of our defense labs. The stuff is absolutely, stunningly deadly.

And, this, my fellow nerds, is why we are at war with science in this country.

Yes, it is to prevent the next anthrax attack. Because what else could we possibly do to combat terrorist attacks by our very own scientists? Nothing, I say. It is war, or we just surrender. You wouldn't want to surrender, would you? Why, then we'd be no better than the damned French!

Me? I'm going to DARPA to get some funding so we can win this war! The first thing I need is a telescope -- to show the people just how wrong these "astronomers" really are...

about 2 months ago

The Big Bang's Last Great Prediction

Rob Riggs Re:Theory as it stands is wrong (80 comments)

And gravity still affects the mass in space as it expands, so that items that are strongly gravitationally bound remain so. Yet items that are weakly bound can grow apart.

Bonus question: how does this expansion affect the orbits of planets around stars and the orbits of stars in a galaxy?

about 2 months ago

What qualifications should the 'driver' of a fully autonomous car need?

Rob Riggs Re:Trains? (301 comments)

So, essentially we have not only a human operator issue, we have a human/systemic maintenance issue, too? I gotta wonder how that will play out with driver-less cars. "Sorry, I won't start because your tires are bald." Or will we here something along the lines of "I'm sorry, Dave. The brakes have just failed" while driving on the highway. Some of the beaters I see on the road would not qualify as safe. What is this going to do, in the long term, to the ability of poor people to get from point A to point B in a car that only a poor person would be desperate enough to drive?

My bet is that more automation will solve the problem at the expense of the poor by refusing to go anywhere if critical safety equipment is damaged or inoperable.

about 2 months ago

What qualifications should the 'driver' of a fully autonomous car need?

Rob Riggs Trains? (301 comments)

Why are there still drivers on trains? (See the latest "L" crash at O'Hare airport in Chicago for examples of "human error".) If a computer can navigate a highway with human drivers, surely it can navigate a very simple rail system like the one operated by the CTA. Why are there humans controlling speed and braking on these things?

about 2 months ago

Apple's Revenge: iMessage Might Eat Your Texts If You Switch To Android

Rob Riggs Re:Fix according to Apple is (415 comments)

He's playing fast and lose with his words.

about 3 months ago

Supermassive Black Hole At the Centre of Galaxy May Be Wormhole In Disguise

Rob Riggs Re:Is wormhole a prediction or a writers dream? (293 comments)

Is there any real evidence that a wormhole would actually pass anything to a remote location, or is that just a writers fantasy? Usually travel does not include being disassembled to your constituent parts midway. OK. Call me a doubter!

Evidence? Umm... there is no evidence that wormholes exist at all. But, by definition, if they exist, they would move matter/energy from one point in the universe to another. Otherwise the phenomenon being observed is not a wormhole. The matter that makes up your body is universally fungible as energy. The universe does not care which form you take.

about 3 months ago

BlackBerry To Allow Rivals To Manage Its Smartphones

Rob Riggs Re:Death throes .. (43 comments)

Current blackberry products would surprise you. Android support is basically 100%, minus anything proprietary from google. The features offered on them are similar to what you'd expect from a decent smartphone.

I use current BB products, issued by my company. And they do surprise me. As in "why the hell is my company spending good money on junk like this?!?" Similar to a decent smartphone? Hardly. The ones with real keyboards are glorified feature phones. And those of use that want a decent smartphone will buy one from a decent smartphone vendor.

about 3 months ago

The Foundry Will Soon be a Makerspace in Bellingham, Washington (Video)

Rob Riggs Re:Only because of children? (35 comments)

No, insurance is a problem for any US-based organization. Because we sue.

Exactly. And it is not generally the people or their children that we allow into our makerspaces that we have to be worried about. It is their insurance company that pays for any medical services needed that we worry about.

about 3 months ago

Brazilian Kids Learning English By Video Chatting With Elderly Americans

Rob Riggs Re:Winner (147 comments)

This is a good story for everyone.

I don't know. Just wait until have a generation of Brazilians speaking English and sounding like a Jewish grandmother. ;-)

about 3 months ago



Economists: selfish bastards

Rob Riggs Rob Riggs writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Rob Riggs (6418) writes "Cory Doctorow has started an interesting discussion at Boing Boing based on research he's doing for a new book. The conclusion from the research he has found? Economists are more selfish than non-economists, and the more one studies economics, the more selfish one gets. Cory writes:

In the course of researching my next novel, I happened upon this old paper by Robert H. Frank, Thomas Gilovich, and Dennis T. Regan, "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?" Its conclusions: Economics grad students are more likely to free ride than the general public. Economists are less generous than other academics in charitable giving. Economics undergrads are more likely to defect in prisoner's dilemma problems. Students are less likely to return found money after studying economics but not after studying another subject like astronomy.




JPackage is Evil

Rob Riggs Rob Riggs writes  |  more than 10 years ago I am leading a project at work where we are building components to extend an enterprise-scale software system. We are mostly a Sun shop. Most of the new components are being built to run primarily on Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (AS3) to be exact. Some of the new components are being written in Java.

Most of the software installs for our in-house software is done using a rather archaic system and I want to do better on the Linux systems.

Being a long-time Linux user and admin, I wanted to make sure that we were managing our software installations and dependencies using the excellent package manager, RPM. When it came time to do the initial rollout of the first Java components, I looked around for pre-packaged components and was excited to find the JPackage Project. These guys have all of the most useful Sun and third-party Java software packaged up in RPM format.

I had no idea how evil these people were at the time.

Red Hat AS3 comes with its own set of Java components, including a JVM, ant (a common java build tool used to replace make) and a few others. The development servers seemed OK and the packages build. I installed the missing dependencies from the JPackage Project and everything was looking good. My workstation is a Fedora Core 1 box, so I had to install a few more components from JPackage on my machine than I did on the development servers.

I had all of the dependencies met for the software I was about to package up, and it took only a few minutes with wget and rpm to get there. I was ready to start building the package for the new software.

Here's where things start to go horribly wrong.

Ant would not work on my machine. I kept getting tracebacks about dependencies not being found. This was bizarre. Ant all worked on the development server. And ant worked on my workstation when run as root! I took me a while to look into all of the obvious potential causes: paths, environment, permissions, etc. Everything looked like it should work.

Then I decided to trace the script that instantiated the JVM and ran ant. It was setting different (and wrong!) environment variables. It was looking for its jar files in /opt/abacus, the location I have RPM configured (through my own .rpmmacros file) to use as the location to build packages for (the %_prefix). Why the hell was it doing that?

It took me a couple minutes looking at the the JPackage configuration system to discover, to my horror, that it was using the RPM build environemnt for runtime configuration. WTF?!? The RPM build environemnt is not a runtine configuration system. It is a build configuration system.

So now I am a bit disturbed that anyone would do such a thing. I sent an email to the person who built the ant RPM for the JPackage project:

I got your contact information from the JPackage RPM of Ant. I am trying to use Ant with RPM, but it seems to me that the Ant shell script that is provided with the RPM is doing some (IMHO) screwy things to set up its environment. It is invoking rpm to evaluate various rpm build variables to set up various environment variables. This completely breaks Ant when I need to change the %_prefix variable for RPM. The RPM build variables are just that: build variables. They have no relation to the runtime environment, which is what the Ant script is assuming. Do you know who is responsible for maintaining that script and how I can contact them?

This was forwarded to the JPackage mailing list and conversation ensued. There was at least one person who agreed with me about the problem, but the majority of responses were from the incredulous (saying I am doing something wrong) to the blasé.

The last quote in the thread were:

> I am still
> holding that %_bindir must be defined to `/usr/bin', and that if your
> build environment does not match your runtime environment then you're in
> serious trouble.
I agree. However it's not worth the arguing IMHO. Let people discover by
themselves the joys of using non-standard paths in a shared env.

And that, my friends, is just evil. Anyone who know RPM will know how evil that is. The JPackage developers do not understand RPM and are usurping it. This sort of attitude can harm RPM in the long run. And they don't care.

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