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SAP VP Arrested In False Barcode Scheme

delphi125 Re:Common Sense (535 comments)

Capital, old chap!

(Capital P in Pound implies Stirling, since you didn't understand the first time. Nice try at covering up though!)

more than 2 years ago

Kaspersky Calls For Cyber Weapons Convention

delphi125 I hope they will be! (166 comments)

"conventional modes of democracy could be extinct within two decades"

At present "conventional democracy" has a vote every 4-5 years (perhaps with mid-term or local elections halfway) in which your bit of information (if that!) ends upo with a single bit of who leads for the next 4-5 years, during which politicians tend to drop their campaign promises.

Internet technology allows for finer-tuned democracy, yes, but if anything "election day" should be an annual day on which everybody does physically go to the polls and cast a secret ballot. Because although technology does allow secrecy (not necessary for all votes, but essential for some), the risk of back doors will always be greater than when a simpler and less technological procedure is used.

I'm in my forties now and want to be able to vote issues, not parties. I'd also like to be able to vote for individuals who have proven leadership qualities without them being beholden to a party. Not that I could vote Perot - being European - nor that I would want his finger on the button anymore than anybody else, and at least Obama comes across as somewhat statesmanlike even if his mantra of "Change" never really happened, but you should see the bunch of twits in Europe nowadays (on all sides of the political spectrum).

Almost as if we are forgetting what populism brought in the 1930s.

more than 2 years ago

CS Profs Debate Role of Math In CS Education

delphi125 Re:It's not the math ... (583 comments)

Oh dear, you actually do need a refresher course in mathematics.

What do you call an abelian group with an associative, distributive secondary operator and the power to corrupt mortals?

Answer here: http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/470.html

Apples and oranges are age 5 concepts of counting, at which point children aren't necessarily learning even to subtract yet. As a child I lived at #17, so #13 was two doors to the left, and #21 was two doors to the right. They were two doors away from my house, and from each other they were four doors! But my house was no doors from my house, it was (in more formal mathematical terms) O, the Origin, for me.

Next thing you will be telling me that Quaternions are a purely mathematical construct, with no physical analogue. Oh wait, how about Spacetime, you know, the natural universe we live in?

Now, defining Zero to be the equivalent of the empty set {} and then using the Peano axioms, THAT is a mathematical construct which can help us (mathematicians) to be rigorous (at least until Kurt F.ing Goedel comes along) without a direct physical analogue.

What confused you in your previous post is that the Romans had a perfectly good CONCEPT of zero (nullus) but lacked the notation for it, because they were (in CS terms) overloading their alphabet to do numbers too. Just as hexadecimal notitation does, feed face?

The reason that calculus is so common (not that I did it in my CS diploma, but then I have an M.A. in natural philosophy) a requirement is that Euler's formula brings together many of the (non-discrete) mathematical topics. I'm not sure to what degree (ha!) multiple differentiation (let alone integration) is relevant to a CS student, but a sound mathetical grounding is most certainly to be expected, just as biology and chemistry are to medical students, language to law and arts student, and ouija board usage to economists.

Furthermore, in a liberal (arts/science) degree, if you choose to be a science major of any kind, it would make sense that there is some sort of core curriculum which you are expected to be aware of at least, and where say a medical student might get away with slightly less on the maths front, I'd certainly hope they'd be able to understand that none/zero is one less than one in much the same way as one is one less than two.

Perhaps you are confused between ordinals and cardinals. It makes sense to say "I ate my first apple, then my second apple." It makes significantly less sense to then say "But before that, I ate my zeroth apple". If I have an apple, and you have an orange, then in the vector space of apples and oranges, I have (1, 0) and you have (0, 1). Those look remarkably different to me. However, if we both had 42 apples and 13 oranges, then the difference between our possessions would be NONE.

more than 3 years ago

CS Profs Debate Role of Math In CS Education

delphi125 Re:It's not the math ... (583 comments)

There's no ready analog (to zero) in the natural world.


more than 3 years ago

China Switching To Home-Grown Chips For Supercomputers

delphi125 Re:it is Loongson family (198 comments)

There'll be a Beowulf Cluster of these along soon!

more than 3 years ago

The Logical Leap: Induction In Physics

delphi125 Re:Oh my (630 comments)

2+2=4 is indeed a theorem of arithmetic, but it does not preclude it from being an axiom or the only member of a theory.

Ah, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. What are these "+", "2", "=" and "4" things?

Over ZZ3 (integers modulo 3), 2+2=1.

When you learned to count (pre-school) you were actually learning what mathematicians call the successor function, and although the concept of zero was hard to understand, not only in Roman times, but even in the early Renaissance, current the symbol "2" is defined to be the successor of the successor of "0", and "+" is defined as moving an s() from one side to the other until a "0" has been reached on one side, at which point it can be dropped. So "2+2" = s(s(0)) + s(s(0)) = s(s(s(0))) + s(0) = s(s(s(s(0)))) + 0 = "4". IIRC, 0 can be defined as {} the empty set, s(s(x)) as {{x} u s(x)} or summat like that (not being rigorous, just lazy).

Anyway, a theorem of set theory may turn out to be used as an axiom for arithmetic, and that in turn used as an axiom (or given) for say calculus. But that doesn't make "2+2=4" a theorem at any sensible level, not even a lemma, but rather the definition of the symbols being used.

It turns out that many of the axioms of used in mathematics correspond to our natural understanding at an early level, and that in physics somewhat weird axioms can predict actual results, as in relativity and QM. When counting sheep jumping fences, integer arithmetic is enough. When counting cats in boxes, it isn't.

about 4 years ago

Why Are Terrorists Often Engineers?

delphi125 Re:Actually... (769 comments)


Hey! Which side are you on?

more than 4 years ago

GCC Moving To Use C++ Instead of C

delphi125 Re:80's technology (546 comments)

and DOM, don't forget the DOM.

I've been trying to for years and then you mentioned it, you insensitive clod

more than 4 years ago

Is the Line-in Jack On the Verge of Extinction?

delphi125 Like a desktop? (411 comments)

All motherboards have em.

more than 4 years ago

Correcting Poor Typing Technique?

delphi125 Re:Why? (425 comments)

I scrolled down to see if there were any more relevant posts to reply to, but most of them also boasted about 80+ wpm.

I am by no means a touch typer, but I don't watch my keyboard either. So I correct a lot, and am about half your speed at best (say 50 wpm).

Still probably around 12 cps, but hitting Delete 3 times lowers the average, hehehe.

I still type faster than I can think, whether I am programming, translating, or writing for fun and pleasure. As the GP post said, any more is overkill for anything but data entry or transcribing.

As it happens, I didn't make many mistakes in the previous para, but I can regularly type stuff like: To be oare nto teo be, thatr ais the quzesition.

Thing is, when I'm typing text (using 9 fingers, not the right pinky for some reason, although I do sometimes use my left hand for control (thumb to C for copy, for example), I am aware of my mistakes and often want to change for other reasons anyway. And when programming, I want to type two or three letters and then code-complete.

more than 4 years ago

Lines of computer code written in my life:

delphi125 Re:More than a million? (395 comments)

At the time of posting, 14% say they have written more than a million lines of code. Seriously, I don't think so.

I guess I'll total a million in just another 90 years of coding.

You are forgetting the masses of seriously shitty coders out there who pump out 2000 "lines" per day, 250 days per year, who can get there in just 2 years.

I say 2000 lines because I can "create" that many in 8 hours no problem - it is only 4 lines per minute and I type at roughly 40 wpm when not thinking that much but still being aware of what I'm doing. But agreed, no way can a competent programmer do that every day!

about 5 years ago

Moving Decimal Bug Loses Money

delphi125 Re:Periods and commas. (420 comments)

British mathematicians (from primary school to professor) place the decimal point not at the base, but half way up, at the same level as the minus sign, the space between the lines of an equal sign, or the intersection of the small "x" used as a multiplication sign.

This seriously confused an Italian boy who joined my school at age 14 and eventually was the other person from my year to go to Cambridge.

Unfortunately, despite his intelligence when he was first tested to see what group he should be in, he mistook the dot for a multiplication symbol. He'd been to American schools a lot, since his father was a diplomat. So he answered such simple questions as what is 1.2 + 3.4 (which should be 4.6) as 14 (1x2 + 3x4).

At least the GP understands that confusion is the issue. He is not 100% correct, but it isn't nonsense either.

Don't forget that not only written and spoken are important, but that the limitations of the ASCII/ANSI character set(s) mean that we use "full stops" rather than "points", and similarly combine multiplication into the asterisk.

more than 5 years ago

Moving Decimal Bug Loses Money

delphi125 Re:For the most part. (420 comments)

Interestingly, the x87 FPU has instructions for loading and storing BCD values, but internally computes everything using binary arithmetic. That lets you combine the accuracy of binary floats with the storage efficiency of BCD. To my knowledge, no one has ever wanted to do that.

That isn't very interesting, since it is the x86 (not the maths coprocessor) which has opcodes such as AAA and (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_BCD_opcodes). The accuracy is the same, the performance of arithmetic operations is worse, but the important advantage of BCD on old architectures - including even the 4.77 MHz 8088 - is that they only had at best 16-bit registers, so the most you could represent unsigned was $655.35 (more than enough for anybody). Allowing a packed byte for the cents, and another for ones and tens, etc, may not have been the computationally most efficient, but without an '87, it was better than strings!

more than 5 years ago

Moving Decimal Bug Loses Money

delphi125 Re:God Bless the USA! (420 comments)

There is an urban legend that unified Cameroon (French/British) did trucks one month, and cars the next.

I'm pretty sure it was a joke, but my grandfather (who died in '76) did work there at the time it would have happened.

more than 5 years ago

40 Years of Multics, 1969-2009

delphi125 Real-Time, too! (138 comments)

As Roger Needham quipped, Multics was design for the real-time processes of geological processes.

more than 5 years ago

Are Software Developers Naturally Weird?

delphi125 Re:Asperger's syndrome. (579 comments)

I wouldn't be surprised if I had said syndrome, and I certainly have peeped with discontent often enough, but only at incompetent management.

But I'm going to disagree with both "maturity" and "creativity", although I'll stick fairly close to the latter.

Rather than maturity, what is important is the competence to be able to make a good estimate about when something will be finished (including documentation). Unfortunately the vast majority (80%+) of programmers aren't very good programmers when working in teams. I'll get back to that in a bit.

And rather than creativity, I find imagination, lateral thinking and problem solving in particular, to be more important. A similar 80%+ majority of programmers who's work I've had the pleasure to maintain are extremely creative in using the wrong tool for the job, etc. Again, competence is most important.

I'm going to make it more personal now: I'm unemployed and haven't worked with Delphi for more than 5 years professionally. Unfortunately that's where I put all my eggs. Although after 2020 I'll probably be able to find some maintenance work (just as the COBOL guys did in 1999, hehe), I'd like to be developing new stuff again. I had one agency who I had worked through to mutual profit regularly in the past, only for the incompetent agent to - after saying I couldn't get the job because my French wasn't good enough reversing that when I wrote her in French - then tell me I couldn't get the job because my Delphi experience wasn't recent enough DESPITE the version being asked for (5) being 2 years prior to the end of my professional usage (7), and this being clearly visible on my CV.

Somewhat ironically, for my very first Delphi job opportunity, when I'd waited for 32-bit Delphi (2), the job agency (a temping one back then) had been asked for someone with 5 years Delphi experience, so I didn't get that job either. My 10 years (at the time) Pascal experience counted for nothing, and I sometimes wonder if they ever found a bullshitter who claimed 5 years experience with a product which had existed for only a year. Competence.

The reason I stopped developing was stress-related. I was working for a seemingly friendly guy on a niche product (version 5) of which the source to version 4 had been lost. This was at half my usual rate, but with the understanding I might take the company over when he retired. I told him up front that although I am an excellent developer and test my own code, if I were to develop from scratch I needed a tester, and since he was the only other person, that meant him. The first thing I didn't know is that he was supremely competent at the art of fine bullshit, and for the first six months I hammered out functionality at an extremely fast pace, while he supposedly tested it. Actually, he only did so cursorily, and instead spent most of his time fighting the tax man on his evasion and bullshitting customers into upgrading to the new (as yet non-existent) product. But the second thing I didn't know is that he actually had a demo CD of a competing product, which I tested on a lazy day in summer to see what the opposition was up to. And this may be why this post gets moderated funny: the opposition were on version 3.0 of their product, and not only had a development team of about 100 for this product alone (recall we were about 1.1), but their functionality and data were both at least an order of magnitude higher, and similarly the price was an order of magnitude lower. Not only that, but their budget was, on researching, discovered to be 9 figures. Yes, that's a hundred million dollars. The only bright side is that presumably they used their own tools to develop this competing program. The name of their tools probably started with the word "Visual". Yeah. Laugh with me or cry for me ;)

But let me return to what is important: competence. I know what I'm competent at. I also know what I'm incompetent at, although I've learned the hard way. Note that competence is unrelated to brilliance: I've met many competent colleagues throughout my years in working on Delphi projects. I've certainly come across more incompetent managers than fellow developers, but given "promoted to their level"... that doesn't mean much.

That said, we are talking about the "best programmers" here, so we aren't talking about just one aspect anyway - but even then, competence comes top, in my book at least. But I've never met anybody without both strengths AND weaknesses, and that is where the team comes in.

For example, although I'm a supremely competent programmer (almost 30 years in total, 10+ with my favoured language Pascal BEFORE I used it professionally - apart from teaching it to undergraduates at Cambridge while I was a graduate student there writing a C compiler (in C) as a project - horrid language (tongue firmly in cheek - C++ is the horrid on)), I know that I'm not great at "exhaustive testing of my own code". Although at least I can match parentheses, so maybe there is a future in LISP. I've never found documenting difficult, but in Delphi documenting is rather easy anyway.

My competence comes not from my brilliance though, it comes from thinking before implementing. The reverse is an instant indicator of incompetence. If a programmer spends 8 hours a day typing code, he's doing something wrong. If a programmer spends at least an hour just thinking, not much more than an hour in meetings and discussions, perhaps half an hour documenting (on average), just 4 hours per day actually developing, and spends a few sessions a week on other things, be it a personal project "a la Google", or Monday morning and Friday afternoon focussing on something different (be it company rigmarole or reading trade magazines such as Dr. Dobbs.), and perhaps a couple of sessions testing the work of a partner dev if she finishes planned work for a day early, the programmer will be much more balanced.

To finish, since I seem to be rambling/ranting, I trust I've shown that I'm as weird as any of you, and please trust me that I am as competent as any of you. Although I need to get from 50 to 100 solved in Project Euler sometime, and I don't think it will be as easy as the 4 or 5 afternoons I spent to get to 50! I doubt any of you needs a Delphi Guru soon, but on the off chance, I'm available - if you don't mind someone weird ;)

more than 5 years ago

30,000-Lb. Bomb On Fast Track For Deployment

delphi125 Re:Wow (707 comments)

Seriously, it's pretty fucking hard to get that kind of tax system going without a civilization! You need a whole city full of accountants... barbarians could never manage that.

Bernard Madoff (Great Merchant) has been born in New York (Dubya).

more than 5 years ago


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