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The Technologies Changing What It Means To Be a Programmer

disambiguated Re:Not changed much (294 comments)

As a senior engineer today, I'm responsible not only for knowing ...

I thought the exact same thing when I started as a software engineer in 1996, almost 20 years ago. Only back then we actually generated HTML in C++ on the server (with home-brewed "html template" processors.) And we had to deal with things like COM, and browsers were far less standardized. We also had to deal with database design, only we had to make home-brewed Object-Relational Mappings, because the frameworks for that weren't that good either. Marshalling an object from the database through the business logic and onto the client and back required all kinds of hand-written code. We also had to worry about deployment, but we could only dream about something like WiX. I don't want to hear any complaining about build systems if you haven't been subjected to the horrors of makefiles. We had source control way back then too, but it was less flexible, less salable, and more difficult to use.

And check this out. If we didn't know a tool or API or algorithm or data-structure (oh yeah, we wrote our own back then), you couldn't just google the answer. You had to actually find it in a book, or learn it from a friend or colleague.

about two weeks ago
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The Technologies Changing What It Means To Be a Programmer

disambiguated Re:Some of us do still assemble, even now (294 comments)

They problem is not that they don't know what they're talking about. The problem is that they think they do. There's no excuse for it. Journalists aren't expected to be experts in the things they write about. They're just expected to not be full of shit.

about two weeks ago
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Train Derailment Dumps Two 737 Fuselages Into Clark Fork River

disambiguated Re:How did this get modded up (187 comments)

I think this conversation has gone off the rails. Does that make it actually on-topic?

about 2 months ago
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Why Software Builds Fail

disambiguated Re:Because I'm lazy (279 comments)

This is a holdover from C where you have to declare all your variables at the beginning of the scope. In C++ (and IIRC now in C) you can wait until you have the initializer before you declare the variable. Uninitialized variables should almost never be used, and always commented.

about 2 months ago
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Cable Boxes Are the 2nd Biggest Energy Users In Many Homes

disambiguated Re:huh (394 comments)

I'm guessing you mean W-h there

But how can you subtract hours from watts?

about 2 months ago
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C++ and the STL 12 Years Later: What Do You Think Now?

disambiguated Re: 1M lines? Really? (435 comments)

Well, with copy/paste templates, you can understand the error messages. With C++ templates, the error messages are each kilobytes of jibberish, written in a strange dialect of lisp using angle brackets instead of parentheses.

Also, you don't need half a whiteboard to write the full name of a type.

about 4 months ago
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Watch Bill Nye and Ken Ham Clash Over Creationism Live

disambiguated Re:I am reminded of pigs and engineers here (593 comments)

If you assume that the fossils we find are equally likely to have come from any time in the past, you would expect a continuum of fossils. The tiny percentage of fossils that have survived are not equally distributed though. So you get little slices of times/places where fossils survived, and the rest are gone forever.

Poke all the holes you want/can in evolutionary theory -- it won't improve the alternative theories at all.

about 7 months ago
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Cold Spring Linked To Dramatic Sea Ice Loss

disambiguated Re:What? The system is self-regulating? (422 comments)

The system most certainly is self regulating. So is my living room. If I light my sofa on fire, my air conditioning will kick in. I don't think it'll do much to prevent my house from burning to the ground though.

about a year ago
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Cold Spring Linked To Dramatic Sea Ice Loss

disambiguated Re:how does 2013 compare to the 1980's? (422 comments)

what is the normal temp supposed to be

There is no "supposed to be." Supposed to be according to whom?

Maybe what you mean is "what is the temperature compared to what it would have been without humans?" If so, the answer is clear if not precise: warmer.

about a year ago
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Everything About Java 8

disambiguated Re:Java, is that still around? (233 comments)

I don't (and wouldn't) have a JVM installed so that probably explains why I don't notice it on my desktop. It used to be useful on the server side, but every month that goes by it falls further behind. Java 8 is not going to be significant enough to change that. At this point, the only reason to use Java is because that's what you've always used.

about a year ago
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Doctors Bypass Biometric Scanners With Fake Fingers

disambiguated Re:Biometric system is insecure by design (139 comments)

You're doing it wrong. The biometric data is not like a password -- it's like a username. Do you change your username whenever you change your password? Of course not. You don't want it to be changeable or revocable. The password is separate from the biometric id. That's what you change. And obviously permissions associated with the id are modifyable/revocable. If the biometric id is compromised, you change the password, and perhaps flag the account to notify security if it is used (and the swat team if it's used with the old "revoked" password.)

about a year and a half ago
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Doctors Bypass Biometric Scanners With Fake Fingers

disambiguated Re:Full hand 3D scanners are the only "good" ones. (139 comments)

There are no good biometric systems because keys can't be revoked.

That's not a flaw, it's a feature. And it's not a key, it's an ID.

about a year and a half ago
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Growing Consensus: The Higgs Boson Exists

disambiguated Re:Just wait for the news media to pick this up. (254 comments)

That's the whole reason that people get so worked up about belief -- it affects your actions. What would be the point of belief otherwise?

about a year and a half ago
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The Human Brain Project Receives Up To $1.34 Billion

disambiguated Re:Unlikely to work (181 comments)

In that sense, everything "actively uses" quantum mechanics. Perhaps he meant something else?

about a year and a half ago
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Why Ray Kurzweil's Google Project May Be Doomed To Fail

disambiguated Re:Ah! (354 comments)

I've heard that kind of argument before, and I don't find it convincing. First of all, We don't really know all that much about embryonic development, compared to what we know we don't know about it yet. We know even less about consciousness. We certainly do know something, and we're learning more about it all the time. I just think we have a long way to go before we can do anything like emulating consciousness in a computer. And I think there are good reasons to be skeptical that it can be done in a digital computer at all. But assuming that it is possible, we will have much more than enough computing power laying around long before we know enough to use it effectively to that end. Creating something that can create something to do it for us is not going to make it that much easier, in my opinion. If we knew how to do that, we'd be most of the way toward just finishing it ourselves.

I agree that it is strangely likely that we will "invent" AI without really understanding how it works. There are a few ways that that could happen. But if it happens that way we can't really claim to have "figured it out." Maybe we could ask it how it works :)

By the way, I didn't mean to sound so critical of Dennett's book -- I loved it. Anyone interested in the subject should read it. Come to think of it, I'd recommend just about anything he's written.

about a year and a half ago
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Why Ray Kurzweil's Google Project May Be Doomed To Fail

disambiguated Re:Ah! (354 comments)

I think you missed the point of the question. The question is not about how to scale experience up/out. Scaling is fairly well understood. The question is how do you get a computer to experience anything in the first place.

about a year and a half ago
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Why Ray Kurzweil's Google Project May Be Doomed To Fail

disambiguated Re:It may be flawed, but that doesn't sound like i (354 comments)

Learning without forgetting is possible if, for example, you reconstruct the network, preserving the old one (and this can be optimized so the entire network doesn't have to be duplicated.)

But I'm curious why you think a mind is necessarily a neural network. Are you saying there is no other possible way to construct a mind? As far as I can tell, there are lots of other designs, many of them far superior to neural networks, especially for such basic things as representing knowledge.

about a year and a half ago

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