top Fixing the Pain of Programming
It's right before the sentence that accuses the world of choosing to be illiterate.
top Code Quality: Open Source vs. Proprietary
First, we shouldn't confuse Coverity's numerical measurements with actual code quality, which is a much more nuanced property.
Second, this report can't compare open source to proprietary code, even on the narrow measure of Coverity defect counts. In the open source group, the cost of the tool is zero (skewing the sample versus the commercial world) and Coverity reserved the rights to reveal data. Would commercial customers behave differently if they were told Coverity might reveal to the world their Coverity-alleged-defect data?
Again, having good Coverity numbers can't be presumed to be causally related to quality. For example, Coverity failed to detect the "heartbleed" bug, demonstrating that the effect of bugs on quality is very nonlinear. 10 bugs is not always worse than 1 bug; it depends on what that one bug is.
top FAA Shuts Down Search-and-Rescue Drones
May I come to your local airport and shoot off my model rockets when your children are in a plane that's on short final?
top FAA Shuts Down Search-and-Rescue Drones
>more dangerous than what goes on every weekend at RC modeling sites
My local RC park is marked on my aviation maps, which are updated with some regularity. People flying random devices at random places at random times pretty much have to be more dangerous than that, if they don't show up in the computer when I'm planning my flight route. As drone usage increases, we'll logically eventually see the first GA aircraft crash caused by a drone. It would be logically preferable to make the rules for avoiding that before it happens, but the custom in the U.S. is to wait until someone dies, then make a rule that's draconian, then fight back and forth over tightening and loosening based on what news events garner the most eyeballs over time.
The saving grace will be that MOST drones will be in positions that are illegal for GA aircraft most of the time. Still, even if a guy kills some little kids by hitting a drone while illegal buzzing his own house, involvement of any RC device will become the legal topic de jeur I imagine.
top Joining Lavabit Et Al, Groklaw Shuts Down Because of NSA Dragnet
Probably there are more choices. For example:
Find a sympathetic Congress person to hold a public hearing
with NSA plus real Computer Scientists to inquire on the feasability of using the data they already have to identify gun owners in the U.S, to identify all Jews in the U.S., to identify all Catholics, all Mormons, all Tea Party sympathizers, etc.
Don't take on a superior force if you can instead use
small effort to pit two superior forces against each other. about a year and a half ago
top Will IBM's Watson Kill Your Career?
Hmmm, I thought I recalled seeing at least one question where Watson was beaten to the buzzer. Maybe it just had no answer at all and I misinterpreted that.
top Documentation As a Bug-Finding Tool
No. Wrong. Completely wrong. Completely misses the point.
Writing is a quite different cognitive activity than "thinking". Writing about things provides distance and helps overcome the limitations of working memory that can prevent you from seeing the same problem by just "thinking". Writing documentation produces very different results than just thinking about the code.
Most "old school" programmers have some interpreted language in their toolkit. People who think "old" means 40 probably have Python/Perl/etc. People who are really old probably had Basic/Awk/etc. So, nothing to do with how long you've been programming, more to do with how narrow your background is. As with learning any new language, there's no getting around the basic advice of: Write More Code.
top Re-evaluating the Benefits of Cancer Screening
No, it's just one of those things that people who work in cancer research are aware of and, eventually, that awareness leaks into the public and the press realizes that the research community knows something the uneducated public would find astounding.
Let me give you a human example of the cost of screening. I was sitting in a mammography waiting room once when a women came in for her screening. The receptionist informed her that she could get screened, but the radiologist was out and she would have to wait a day to get the results. The woman became upset and demanded there be a radiologist present. The receptionist gave the same reply.
Eventually, the woman was sobbing and explaining that, though she was a nurse, false-positive mammograms had sent her in for biopsies three times already. The last time had been 5 years earlier and she simply stopped returning because she couldn't face another biopsy. This was the first time she had got her nerve up to come in for a mammogram again in all that time, and there was no way she could leave that office and not know if anything (false or not) had been found.
And that's not even a case with serious physical costs for screening, "merely" psychological costs:
that caused someone to stop getting screened.
Likelihood of a false positive by your tenth mammogram? Nearly
100%. Since you're presumably working in some kind of technological field, you should really realize that technology always has a downside and not assume that anyone recommending shoving less technology down patients throats simply has a profit motive.
top Re-evaluating the Benefits of Cancer Screening
Two reasons that won't work. Restrict the discussion to breast/prostate cancer for simplicity. Both are highly treatable if they haven't mutated enough to have the ability to metastasize. You can't make an imaging technique that checks every cancer cell to see if even one(!) has gained the ability to metastasize.
Second, the vast majority of people will INSIST on surgery if they know they have cancer. I used to try to explain to people that most of us have already (if we've got grey hair) thyroid cancer, but it is highly unlikely to harm us. Then I realized I was just causing people to run to their doctor to demand an X-ray of their thyroid. People can't process things like "likelihood" when it comes to cancer, which is why the fact that screenings can cause more harm than good is very difficult to have a rational discussion about.
top A New Approach To Reducing Spam: Go After Credit Processors
Three Geeks, Three Lawyers post.
top How To Spread Word About My FOSS Project?
just ask all the users you worked with during development to spread the news. What's that? You didn't actually work with your future customers while developing the software? And now you're surprised that total strangers you didn't value during development don't value your project now? Classic.
This actually happens with shareware all the time. People code up something that scratched their itch. Build a website. Find a credit card provider. Issue a press release. And then are disappointed when there are 0 sales after a month.
If you want to make software for you, go into a cave and do it, and be happy with what you get. If you want to write software for
people, then you have to work with (surprise!) people. The payback is, the first day the software ships, you already know it's useful to others, you already have a user community, and they are already spreading the word for you. When people tell you they aren't interested in trying your software, they're telling you your software is not very useful. Either they are right, or you can't describe your software very well.
top CT Scan "Reset Error" Gives 206 Patients Radiation Overdose
There's nothing creepier than showing up for your weekly radiation treatment just to find out there's a delay because they're "installing a Windows upgrade". When I asked the radiologist if there was any failsafe in the device, he assured me there was. When I asked if there was a radiation detector positioned behind the patient that was capable of shutting off the beam if it detected too much radiation, he said "no, nothing like that."
Medical radiation equipment should be designed with a secondary, independent piece of hardware capable of measuring pass-through radiation and shutting off the equipment. Doctors should demand such designs. Do you face much worse risks in your daily life? Sure. But your local Toyota dealer did not swear an oath to "first, do no harm."
top Platform Independent C++ OS Library?
The Java repliers are right on the mark. Trying to use app-independent portability layers ensures apps of any complexity will suck. By "suck", I mean "compromised at every turn by lowest-common denominator design decisions". Your app will end up using threads on an O/S designed to make multi-processing beautiful (Linux), or end up using multiple processes on an O/S designed to make multi-threading beautiful (Windows). It'll be clueless about the nifty GUI features that exist on a Mac but not Windows, and vice versa. Knowing up front that your app is going to suck allows you to, in all good conscience, choose a language that highly adapted for creating apps that suck in this manner.
When I fire up a Java app on Windows (and I ALWAYS know it's a Java app the minute it finally manages to lumber onto the screen), I know I'm going to get the same sucky behavior if I fire that app up on a totally different platform (well, assuming I can manage to figure out whatever obscure infinite-megabyte downloads are needed to get the right "runtime engine" for the given app).
Really, the only way you can make your app suck even more and be even more portable is to just go ahead and make it a web "service". That has the added advantage that nobody really expects anything but poor performance and clunky UI design from the get-go. But if for some reason you can't have your app suck as bad as a web service, then Java is definitely the next-suckiest way to achieve that portability that your end users don't give a crap about, but you hope will make your life easier.
top Eolas To Sue Apple, Google, and 21 Others
Now anybody can see what you did and how. Patents are as much a learning tool as they are an economic engine.
That's the sentence where you stuck your foot in it. How many hundreds of thousands of programmers on the planet? OK, now how many programmers search the patent database for ideas they can buy before coding? 100,000? 1,000? Can you name me even 10? Where is the Eclipse plug-in for searching the patent database for relevant algorithms? Where is the panoply of web startups offering an online search tool that locates the patented algorithms that will help you get your next project done faster if you license them?
When it comes to software, patents have had half their faces blown off. They no longer function
at all as a learning tool, or even as an economic engine for a hard-working programmer/inventor to profit from their non-obvious invention/algorithm. With much of their original, intended functionality rendered useless, patents (most especially in the realm of software) have long since passed the point where they offer society more costs than benefits. They are almost entirely the tool of large companies, lawyers, and those who sell services to inventors gullible enough to believe we still live in an age where patents work the way you describe.
top A Breathalyzer For Cancer
Non-oncs generally don't understand that a whole lot of cancer is "clinically irrelevant". That is, it would never go on to kill you. Thus, as early detection gets better in most areas, you detect a greater percentage of cancer that was never going to hurt the patient. However, once you see the cancer, you are duty-bound to slash/burn/poison (Susan Love's famous chapters) to cure it. Statistically speaking, you know you are actually harming some patients, but it is a dilemma -- you hurt all the patients in order to serve a greater good for some percentage of them. A good example is the growing backlash against general PSA screening. Even just a biopsy for prostate cancer can't be 100% risk-free, but the treatment is really risky, assuming you're not enthusiastic about being impotent and/or incontinent for the rest of your life.
So don't get too excited about increased early detection of cancer. Currently, it is usually a double-edged sword that brings suffering to some percentage of patients who would have avoided it before the new test existed. An exciting development would be a detection test for distinguishing cancer that's just sitting there from cancer that's on the move and likely to kill.
top Major Rogue Anti-Virus Program Shut Down
Which is why we need
3 geeks, 3 lawyers to shutdown the lion's share of spam and misbehavior like this.
top South Korea Joins the "Three Strikes" Ranks
Scenario: the wrong geek gets 2 strikes, gets mad, and fires up a botnet (or just happens to have, say, $20,000 laying around to rent an existing one for a few runs). The botnet causes a significant percentage of users in some country to start getting their "strike warnings". As a result, the fallacy of the idea that IP addresses identify human beings is exposed (or the fallacy that ISPs invest the slightest effort in controlling botnets, if you like).
top Saving 28,000 Lives a Year
Your anecdotal data point is representative of how risk is being moved from organizations to individuals, and income volatility is increasing even for highly educated workers (in the U.S., of course). See "High Wire" by Gosselin for detailed statistics. When Suze Orman switched to telling people they need 1 year of income in cash for emergencies, the shift in risk, the increase in income volatility, is the "why".
top Thre Strange Definitions of Computer Programming
My Ignite talk hits YouTube (http://bit.ly/95Jith), in which I define programming in terms of energy, intelligence, and evolution. As it says, "... the magic of computer programming has been lost on its practitioners."
top An Evolutionary View of Software
top Cartesian Programming
Descartes would have been a programmer if he were alive today. The unpleasant little fellow didn't think too much of the intellectual ability of others, and was always inclined to solve problems on his own. This has led to my definition of
top Back Pain and Programming
Unfortunately, what appears to be a botched press release from MKM/Verbatim is contributing to the ongoing stumbling introduction of LightScribe, since it says they'll be selling "stampers and ink" for LightScribe-enabled drives.
I've written about the mess here:
What is LightScribe Ink?
Of course, most users deserve at least a modest amount of offsite backup, and we all mean to do it, but just don't get around to it. That led me to think of using hurricane season as a reminder to create or verify your offsite backup plan, just like fire departments use the daylight savings time switch to remind us to check our fire alarm batteries.
The link is: