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Ask Slashdot: How To Start Reading Other's Code?

Tarsir Re:Keep Some Rules In Mind (254 comments)

2) Just because the code is awful doesn't mean it has no value -- No matter how bad it is and how difficult it is to read, if it works at all it has probably got years (maybe even decades) of bug fixes and feature requests. Until you have a handle on it, any little change could cause a catastrophic cascade of side-effects.

3) No, we don't need to rewrite it. See 2. A working program now is worth more than all the pie in the sky you can promise a year from now.

So very true--take note all you young programmers out there. Especially those of you who are suggesting to dive right in and begin refactoring code immediately. I shudder to think of the damage you can do by "refactoring" code which you've just started investigating and which you don't yet understand.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: How Important Is Advanced Math In a CS Degree?

Tarsir It's important (656 comments)

If you're like most people in a University STEM program, you found High School very easy. This math course may very well be the first challenging thing you've done at school. You have to face and overcome this challenge, just as you'll have to face and overcome many challenges during your programming career.

The point of all this 'well-roundedness' stuff, where people tell you you must learn diverse subjects that have no relation to your desired career, is to make you work outside your comfort-zone; and to expand your comfort zone to include new subjects and skills. You'll have to do the same in your career.

about a year ago

MIT's Charm School For Geeks Turns 20

Tarsir Re:Charm school? Really? (217 comments)

With ties, there's also a comfort issue. Many people find constriction about their neck area to be uncomfortable

You can wear your tie as loose or as tight as you want. If your tie is constricting it's because your shirt's collar measurement is too small.

about a year and a half ago

The Next Revolution In Medicine: Genome Scans For Everyone

Tarsir Re:Pretty little (126 comments)

$1000 is what it will cost the hospital. You'll see a $10,000 charge on your bill.

about a year and a half ago

Reasons You're Not Getting Interviews; Plus Some Crazy Real Resume Mistakes

Tarsir Re:Why the hate? (246 comments)

To be fair, drivel like this has been showing up for Slashdot for years. I didn't notice it was a paid piece until I read the comments complaining about it. The problem is two--fold. First is a matter of principal--rather than get their drivel on Slashdot through users submissions, like all the other drivel, they're using their position as parent company to do so.

Second is the very real possibility that paid drivel will increase in volume until there is nothing left but drivel pieces. Then the few genuinely good stories will be gone.

about a year and a half ago

Online Narcotics Store 'Silk Road' Is Showing Cracks

Tarsir Re:Great! A place where I can buy nothing! (330 comments)

You can get anything from Silk Road. (...) [You] can buy counterfeit coupons, fake IDs, real IDs, software, pr0n, weapons (until recently), school assignments, hit contracts, and the list goes on.

[It's] the principle of being able to do whatever you want with your money and your body. (...) [Stop] asking questions that are nothing more than your thinly veiled criticism of someone else's life choices.

Yeah! Who are you to tell me me that I can't buy a crate full of AK-47s and put out a hit on the guy who cuts across my lawn every afternoon?

about a year and a half ago

Poll Finds Americans Think the TSA Is 'Doing a Good Job'

Tarsir Re:Real reason (523 comments)

"Have you quit beating your wife yet?" has an implied premise, which is that you are currently beating your wife

Similarly, "So you're saying TSA doesn't do a good job? Then tell me how many buildings terrorists have flown airplanes into recently. Name one!" has an implied premise that the TSA is responsible for the number airplanes flown into buildings.

more than 2 years ago

Iran Claims New Cyber Attack On Its Nuclear Plants, Blames US and Allies

Tarsir Re:Oh, stop acting surprised, Iran (289 comments)

The US has opened pandora's box, and there is no going back. You can't control malware the same way you can try to control nuclear weapons. Just wait and see.

I don't think the US opened that box. Organized crime has been deploying malware against individuals and organizations for years. I've been seeing stories on Slashdot about "Chinese Hackers" breeching US governmental and corporate networks for years. With Stuxnet and Flame the US has merely taken what everyone was already doing and done it better.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Getting a Tech Job With Skills But No Formal Degree?

Tarsir Part-time (266 comments)

Study part-time (you can fit one or two courses a semester around a full-time job without too much pain) for whatever degree fits best for high level system administration (it's not, or shouldn't, be Computer Science). Put that degree on your resume, with the projected completion date in the future--if you're worried, put a bullet point underneath stating that it's a degree in progress. This will get you past quick filter passes which throw out resumes that have no undergrad degree.

Anyone who is looking at these resumes closely enough to notice the undergrad isn't actually completed yet will likely be more interested in work experience than in education, so you're okay on that front. Once you get to the interview you can spin it as a positive: you're qualified to do the job based on past experience, and you're sufficiently ambitious to get the degree anyway to 'round out your skillset', or however you want to phrase it.

more than 2 years ago

A Day In the Life of a "Booth Babe"

Tarsir Re:Be thankful (687 comments)

Heh, good point. I stand corrected :P

more than 2 years ago

A Day In the Life of a "Booth Babe"

Tarsir Re:Be thankful (687 comments)

Imagine having to do actual work.

Indeed. I imagine sitting at your desk reading Slashdot and thinking up low-quality snarky comments is quite demanding. You have truly earned your pay today.

more than 2 years ago

Star Wars: 1313, a 'Darker, Grittier' Star Wars Game

Tarsir Re:Lame (133 comments)

The ending sucked though :P

more than 2 years ago

Why Kids Should Be Building Rockets Instead of Taking Tests

Tarsir Re:Logistics/time are a problem (381 comments)

He said that he would like to do more but that (...) a great deal of time is spent policing the kids to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do.


If you really want to teach science in a manner that would engage kids, you need some exceptional teachers.

Exceptional teachers, and a well-behaved class. My girlfriend is a teacher who has taught at several different schools in my area, and she raves about the difference having a well behaved class can make. With a well-behaved class, she can do all kinds of engaging activities and crafts (she teaches Grade 1). She can't do that with a poorly-behaved class because they would take that opportunity for freedom and creative thinking and waste it drawings guns, knives, penises, swear words, and insults directed at other students.

This isn't meant as a rebuttal to you, but to all those posters (and there are many) who peddle conspiracy theories about how the education system is, by design, preparing students to be obedient factory workers. There are good, practical reasons why teachers have strict expectations regarding behaviour, and it's not because they're trying to crush little Johny's spirit. It's because in actual fact, little Johny is an unrepentant brat who's disrupting the 20-30 other kids in his class who might want to learn.

But I digress. More prep time will help too :P

more than 2 years ago

The Cost of Crappy Security In Software Infrastructure

Tarsir Re:Well that was 7 minutes I won't get back (156 comments)

Agreed. This was an article with many low points, but I think the following two excerpts highlight the flawed reasoning quite well:

The underlying platforms and infrastructures we develop on top of should take care of [ensuring security], and leave us free to innovate and create the next insanely great thing.

The other major factor in why things are so bad is that we don't care, evidently. If developers refused to develop on operating systems or languages that didn't supply unattackable foundations, companies such as Apple and Microsoft (and communities such as the Linux kernel devs) would get the message in short order.

This article is missing even a gesture towards explaining why "the infrastructure" should be responsible for security while developers create their masterpeices, and boils down to mere whining: "Security isn't fun so someone else should do it for me!" Perhaps the worst part is that there is a good argument to be made that the OS and hardware should take of security, and a fundamental limit to how much security they can offer; the blog author just doesn't make it. Having the OS plug a given security hole once is more efficient than having each application duplicate the effort of plugging the hole. On the other hand, security is necessarily a trade-off for functionality, so the only fully secure application is one with no permission to do anything.

more than 2 years ago

Can Machine Learning Replace Focus Groups?

Tarsir Re:OK, so... (93 comments)

In the time you took to complain you could have RTFA.

Reread my post. I clicked through and read the article before posting my comment.

I understood it the first time I read it yesterday.

No you didn't. As the summary contains no actual information, you filled it in with your own prejudices and preconceptions, no doubt because you are not in the habit of reading things carefully. cf My first point.

Today, listening to complaints, I read it again and still understand it.

What is this supposed to prove? Of course you "still" understand it after having read the full article, unless you think people habitually lose all knowledge of their previous experiences after sleeping for eight hours.

Maybe you're not bright enough to either a) read it carefully

Ha! cf My first point again.

or b)understand it.

cf My second point.

No problema - there are plenty of jobs as janitors and car salesmen.

What do you do that's so prestigious and intellectually demanding?

more than 2 years ago

Can Machine Learning Replace Focus Groups?

Tarsir Re:OK, so... (93 comments)

You know, I read the summary without understanding it, and just clicked through to read the article, but only after reading your comment did I realize just how little sense the summary really made.

In a blog post, Steve Hanov explains how 20 lines of code can outperform A/B testing.

It starts off talking about a nobody who did something that is apparently so trivial that it can be outdone by 20 lines of code. You might think that the following sentence will answer at least one of the questions raised by this sentence: Who is Steve Hanov? What is A/B testing? What do Steve's 20 lines of code do? But you'd be wrong.

Using an example from one of his own sites, Hanov reports a green button outperformed orange and white buttons.

Because the next sentence jumps to a topic whose banality and seeming irrelevance to the matter at hand defies belief. Three coloured buttons, one of which 'outperformed' the others, with nary a hint as to what these buttons do, or how one can outperform the others.

Why don't people use this method?

The third sentence appears to pick up where the first left off. Why don't people use the A/B testing method? Or are we talking about the three coloured buttons method?

Because most don't understand or trust machine learning algorithms, mainstream tools don't support it, and maybe because bad design will sometimes win.

The final sentence is a tour-de-force of disjointed confusion. It skips from machine learning algorithms that haven't been discussed, to tools with unknown purpose, to the design of something which was never specified.

It's like the summary is some kind of abstract art installation whose purpose is to be as uninformative as possible. It is literally the opposite of informative: Not only does it provide no information, it raises questions which you can't even be sure relate to the purported topic at hand, because you don't know what the topic at hand is.

It is either a bizarrely confused summary or one of the most artful trolls ever to grace Slashdot's front page

more than 2 years ago

NC Planners May Be Barred From Using Speculative Sea Level Rise Predictions

Tarsir Re:It's a gamble either way (419 comments)

The title and summary are poorly worded, even for Slashdot. From the bill:

These rates shall only be determined using historical data, and these data shall be limited to the time period following the year 1900. Rates of seas-level rise may be extrapolated linearly.

Specifying that only historical data may be used is one thing. Explicitly dileniating the time used for extrapolation, as well as the method used for extrapolation is quite another. The real point of contention is that sea level rise is exponential, not linear, at least according to the Scientific American blog posting.

more than 2 years ago

Amazon Patents Electronic Gifting

Tarsir Re:This is an outrage (164 comments)

Dictionaries are not authoritative, but style guides are even less so. A style guide is merely someone's opinion as to what is clear and/or aesthetically pleasing. Much to the dismay of many with strong opinions about how language should be used, myself included, the concept of correct language is mostly just a lie we tell to children to avoid having to explain the ugly truth: that no two people have exactly the same mental schema of English, and that we're just trying to make sure they line up well enough that we can understand one another.

more than 2 years ago

Amazon Patents Electronic Gifting

Tarsir Re:This is an outrage (164 comments)

"Gift" is not a verb. You cannot create a gerund from a noun.

First, 'electronic gifting' is not a gerund. A gerund is the '-ing' form of a verb used as a noun. 'Electronic gifting' is pretty clearly an adverb and a verb. Second, the ability of a verb to serve as a noun, and vice versa, is so widespread in English, is so fundamental to how the language works, that I can't imagine why you people keep bringing this up. Go look at a list of common verbs or nouns in English and see how many are also a noun or verb

more than 2 years ago

Worried About Information Leaks, IBM Bans Siri

Tarsir Re:How is that different from any search engine? (168 comments)

Here is a search of the ACL Anthology for Speech recognition. As you can see, the term is widely used by actual computer scientists. Linguistic Audio Parsing, by contrast, is a term you coined just now.

Converting speech to text does have some drawbacks, but it has many advantages as well. First among these is the ability to apply the vast amount of work which has been put into parsing and understanding text. Furthermore, there's no need to lose the additional information carried by tone and other speech patterns, you can simply annotate the text you produce with tags denoting, for example, sarcasm. The actual problem with translating speech to text then applying the usual sentence parsing algorithms is that spoken text and written text actually have distinct grammars. They are like different dialects of the same language.

more than 2 years ago


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