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Massive Diamond Found Orbiting Pulsar

bullok Re:Article is very poorly written (204 comments)

Oops. You're absolutely right. It's not charges keeping them apart. My brain segfaulted.

about 3 years ago
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Massive Diamond Found Orbiting Pulsar

bullok Article is very poorly written (204 comments)

Let me dust of the old astronomy degree here...

Major problems:

  • White dwarf matter is nothing like normal matter. It is electron degenerate matter. The atomic number of the original atoms no longer mean much, if anything, so calling this a "diamond" is as far beyond stupid as degenerate matter is beyond the densities that you and I are familiar with in every day life. The core of a white dwarf is compressed so far, that the electrons and nuclei are crammed together much closer than their charges would like them to be. But, gravity has won this contest and pushed the electrons and nuclei VERY close together. There are no more "atoms" in a white dwarf, so calling it "carbon" is a stretch. This stuff would make a block of pure uranium look less substantial than a wispy puff of hydrogen. Normal rules for chemistry no longer apply.
  • A white dwarf would typically have about the mass of our sun, with the approximate volume of earth. There is no way that there is a white dwarf the "size of Jupiter" anywhere. Anything that large made of white dwarf matter would collapse into a black hole. So, it might be the "mass of Jupiter". But, that means it must have started out much more massive, and been whittled down by some process. I'm not certain that close proximity to a pulsar could do that. This stuff is held together VERY strongly by gravity. Pulling it apart might be possible, but... given the lousy writing in the rest of the article, I'm not convinced that they got this part correct, either.
  • This stuff is not any kind of "crystal". A crystal has to be a regular lattice of some sort. Electron degenerate matter doesn't do lattices. I suppose if it were cooled enough, it might settle down into something vaguely like a crystal. But the universe isn't old enough (by MANY orders of magnitude) for a white dwarf to have cooled off enough to be anything but a horrifyingly dense seething mass of gooey hellfire. Even when it does cool off, calling it a "crystal" would be like saying I'm hot like Natalie Portman, because we both have nice eyes - there's more bullshit than truth in that statement.
  • The science that "inspired" this article is probably fine. But, the article is crap.

about 3 years ago
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Windows XP In a Browser

bullok This is different how? (217 comments)

For years, MS has exposed control of the OS through the browser. This just formalizes the arrangement. ;P

more than 3 years ago
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Last Days For Central IPv4 Address Pool

bullok Re:We always knew that ipv6 adoption would be mess (376 comments)

Well, if it's going to cost your organization a lot to move to IP6, then I guess it sucks to be you. Anyone even remotely involved in IT has known, for a decade or so, that this was coming sooner or later, and if you're so far behind that it's going to cost you a ton of money to make the switch, then CLEARLY, your organization has had it's head in the sand, and has been willfully ignoring what everyone else knew was coming. If the expense of switching is going to ruin your business, then good riddance, I say. That's not "survival of the fittest", it's just "survival of the not completely brain dead".

In addition, your figure of trillions is ridiculous. You're off by many orders of magnitude. There is absolutely no way in hell it's going to cost everyone on the planet $1000 or more to switch to IP6. I don't know where you're getting that figure, but please put it back wherever it came from.

Everyone needs to decide on an IP6 go live date, and an IP4 shutoff date, that's VERY soon afterward. If we let people get by with IP4 for too long, they'll just bitch and whine, and insist there's no money to make the switch, etc., and drag their feet, and complain about not being able to get to IP6 only addresses. Bite the bullet and switchover, please. Let's get this done and get back to work.

more than 3 years ago
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What Knowledge Gaps Do Self-Taught Programmers Generally Have?

bullok Re:DP, Algorithms, OOP A&D, Threading, etc (396 comments)

Yes, you're right. I haven't worked with it much. But I remember it as being a pretty good design. I didn't say all DSLs were unnecessary, or bad. :) This one certainly blows LSL out of the water.

more than 4 years ago
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What Knowledge Gaps Do Self-Taught Programmers Generally Have?

bullok Re:DP, Algorithms, OOP A&D, Threading, etc (396 comments)

Sorry. I have to disagree with you completely. No user defined libraries... only rudimentary argument passing between scripts, needing to use the API to access list elements, no arrays. Come on! It's a horribly-designed language, even for animating link sets. You can't even smootly animate prims with it, without making them physical. And the main problem is, that there's nothing else you can use to automate anything in SL EXCEPT for LSL. Yes, people try to write complex things that LSL wasn't designed for, but it's not because they don't understand it's limitations, it's because it's the only option. So, if anything, you've just proven my point. They developed an in-house language, and it miserably failed to meet the needs of it's users. How is that a well-designed language, exactly?

The issue is, that the problem domain was NOT well-understood by the designers. They thought they understood what people would need to automate in SL, and they were VERY wrong. Had they used lua, python, perl, scheme.. hell, ANYTHING else, they'd have done a better job. This is a case where the designers thought they could write a language from scratch, and they failed miserably. Anyone who's designed a DSL from scratch knows that people will push the boundary of the original intention. It's the designer's job to anticipate what the users want and need. I still call this an epic fail at Linden Labs.

And, yeah, I've done a lot work with microcontrollers, and cut my programming baby teeth on 6502 assembly. I know about "programming in the small".

more than 4 years ago
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What Knowledge Gaps Do Self-Taught Programmers Generally Have?

bullok Re:DP, Algorithms, OOP A&D, Threading, etc (396 comments)

This is an excellent list. I was self-taught from the age of about 12, and thought I was an excellent programmer until I was about 25. Having earned BS and MS degrees in Astronomy and Mathematics, I'd written a fair number of programs, and had a decent command of about 7 languages. Then I went to graduate school for Computer Science. And I found out that my knowledge was SEVERELY lacking, both in breadth and in depth. How much of my missing knowledge was relevant to day-to-day programming tasks? Well, perhaps not surprisingly, not much. However, when I come across some issue where my CS education is useful, it's HUGELY useful, and enables me to tackle a problem in far less time, and most importantly, implement a correct solution. It also lets me know when I need to turn over a portion of a project to a specialist. In other words, I'm now more aware of the things that will become a time sink, and increase uncertainty if I attempt them. This ability to do "project triage" is one of the benefits of a well-rounded CS education.

I think that this is the main reason that you'll hear a lot of people say that a university CS education isn't very useful. For about 98% of the things you work on, it really doesn't make you any better than someone who's self-taught. But that remaining 2%... it can mean the difference between blowing months of time on a crappy solution to a problem, or knowing how to put a good one together in a few days time. So, on the whole, a Uni education can make you a far better programmer, even though you won't necessarily find yourself pulling tricks out of your Uni bag every day.

As an example I'll add my 2 cents about only one of the topics mentioned above: Programming Languages. There are many cases where programmers try to develop a "simple" scripting language for embedding in an application. This is one thing that very few people (even uni-educated) should attempt. Proper language design and parsing is VERY difficult, and there are at least a half-dozen well-designed scripting languages that can be literally dropped in to an application with almost no effort when compared to the complexity of rolling your own. And yet, we see time and time again, people attempting to write one from scratch. One of the worst examples I can think of off the top of my head is LSL (Linden Scripting Language), used in Second Life. It's an absolute nightmare of a language. And yet, it made it into a large-scale product like Second Life.

There ARE many cases where a domain-specific language (DSL) can be incredibly useful, especially when the language does not need to be a general-purpose one. In my experience, it's rare for a programmer (no matter how their skills were gained), to create a good DSL without a strong grasp of at least a dozen programming languages or so. University-educated programmers tend to be a better judge of whether they are up to the task of designing and/or implementing a language(at least, after they've tried their hand at it once or twice).

more than 4 years ago
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Spray-On Liquid Glass

bullok OUCH! (293 comments)

If a sheet of glass 15 to 30 atoms thick breaks, I'd expect it to be extremely hazardous to clean up. The pieces would be incredibly sharp.

more than 4 years ago
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Mathematics Reading List For High School Students?

bullok Flatland "sequel" (sort of) (630 comments)

Others have mentioned "Flatland" by Edwin Abbott, which I also strongly recommend.

"Geometry, Relativity, and the Fourth Dimension" by Rudolf Rucker should be accessible to a high school student. It revisits Flatland, so that's probably a good book to read first.

"The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives" by Leonard Mlodinow is an easy and entertaining read, and talks about how human intuition is often wrong when making probability estimates.

"Knotted Doughnuts" by Martin Gardner is a compilation of brain-teasers from Scientific American. Gardner has published several of these collections, but this is my favorite.

more than 5 years ago
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Is DVORAK Gaining Traction Among Coders?

bullok Re:Languages (559 comments)

Dvorak is optimized for writing English. Most coders - like most computer users in general - do not use English as their main language, and for us Dvorak is substantially worse than the qwerty layout in every way.

Most (not all) computer languages have keywords and library names and functions that ARE based on English. Furthermore, English is the most common language used in comments when contributors have different native languages. So, coders type an awful lot of English and near-English words. So, I dispute your assertion about English not being used by most coders.

Furthermore, I don't see why Dvorak is a horrible layout for other languages. I type a few other European languages with some regularity on a Dvorak keyboard, and while accents are a bit of a pain, it's no worse than qwerty. Qwerty is essentially random, so it's certainly not tuned for any particular language, except perhaps by accident. I can't say whether qwerty's really good for some non-European languages, but I doubt that it's substantially better than Dvorak.

If you ignore the letter keys, the only things that are moved so that greater or less reach is required are: -_ swapped with [{ , and += swapped with ]} . Whether this is good or bad depends on your coding style and what programming languages you use.

Long story short: you're a moron.

I've been using Dvorak for 10 years. It took me a couple of days to learn, and I exceeded my qwerty typing speed within two months. Almost all of what I type is code. I'm happy with the switch.

more than 7 years ago

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