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Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?

fahrbot-bot Ahh... Pascal. (141 comments)

My university actually taught/used Pascal in the classroom in the early/mid 1980s and I graded programs written in it. Kernighan's criticisms of Pascal on BSD are spot on - I know, I tried using it for a (more) serious project. The semester project for my Operating Systems class was to simulate an interactive operating system - in Pascal.

The system used for the class was the University's IBM 4381 mainframe running MUSIC ("McGill University System for Interactive Computing") and the version of Pascal had *lots* of libraries and features.

I was a undergraduate research assistant (working on an AI project, funded by NASA, in LISP and Prolog) and had an account on the VAX-785 running 4.3BSD and wanted to use *that* (on my schedule) instead of standing in line to use the IBM. My instructor said "sure", but I'd have to port the support libraries he wrote for the assignment. Unfortunately, the version of Pascal on BSD was just the basic language - as specified in the Language Definition book by Jensen and Wirth. Porting the code from the "richer" version of Pascal on the IBM/MUSIC to the "basic" version on VAX/BSD was simply not possible.

So, I asked my instructor if I could, instead, do the semester project in C. He said "sure", but, again, I'd have to port his libraries from Pascal to C. Now... I didn't know C at the time, but porting his code to it and doing my semester project in it was a great introduction - and I passed the class. All-in-all, this experience help me out immensely with my CS career as I do a LOT of cross-platform work in many programming languages - though not Pascal :-)

2 hours ago
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Twitter Moves To Curb Instagram Links

fahrbot-bot Re:Serious question (100 comments)

How many people here actually use Twitter?

I created an account years ago, never posted anything, and I don't read anything off of twitter... I'm 26.

I'm 51 and created (parked) an account in 2012 and have one tweet posted from April 2014 -- after they changed the site style/layout and started nagging people with a sample "first tweet" for those w/o any tweets. It says: "Shut up Twitter; I'll tweet when I want to."

Sometimes, I post a tweet or two, but usually delete them after a while once any current relevance passes. Ya, that's not how you're suppose to use it, but so what. If you're not promoting something and/or yourself, Twitter is just a pointless waste of time - like all the rest of the social media sites.

3 hours ago
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Calif. DMV Back-Pedals On Commercial-Plate Mandate For Ride-Share Drivers

fahrbot-bot Re:Insurance (125 comments)

Don't forget about barbers, hairdressers, and interior decorators. Just imagine what would happen to our civilization if people could cut hair, or pick out curtains, without a license from the government.

Or police! We could have unlicensed/untrained police shooting or choking unarmed men, women and children ... oh wait... I guess, they'd technically be called militia, vigilantes or terrorists, so that would probably be okay then.

3 hours ago
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Calif. DMV Back-Pedals On Commercial-Plate Mandate For Ride-Share Drivers

fahrbot-bot Re:Insurance (125 comments)

Why, exactly, should Uber drivers get to drive passengers using regular non-commercial drivers' insurance?

I once drove some of my daughter's friends home from a birthday party. Should I have had to have a commercial driver's license?

You probably need something else because, apparently, you can't read. The OP said "insurance" and you replied with "license"; OP said "drive people around for a living" (many over time) and you replied with "I once drove some of my daughter's friends home" (many one time). Seriously, OP offered *one* short paragraph and you fucked up reading comprehension 101.

3 hours ago
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Winklevoss Twins Plan Regulated Bitcoin Exchange

fahrbot-bot Re:Nobody should trust these scammers (76 comments)

They should have just called their new product "Facecoin"

Otherwise known as "money shot" - or so I've heard.

yesterday
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WhatsApp vs. WhatsApp Plus Fight Gets Ugly For Users

fahrbot-bot Damn it. (180 comments)

There goes my idea for a fork named "WhatsApp Doc?" for physicians - and rabbits.

yesterday
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US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

fahrbot-bot Re:More proof (661 comments)

I don't live anywhere near a sea, and furthermore, we have long, long brutal winters here. And there's lot of people living in places like me. So.. tell me again why I would fight against rising temperatures?

So rising seas won't *directly* affect you, but, even in your area, as temperatures rise, there are probably plants and animals that could die off, local aquifers may dry up (due to changes in rainfall patterns)... In addition, unless you live in a completely self-contained/sustaining bubble, you get things from other places in the country/world... Ultimately, eventually, we're all in this together.

3 days ago
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Silk Road 2.0 Deputy Arrested

fahrbot-bot Perhaps... (126 comments)

One package was found to contain 107 Xanax pills, ...

... the guy just has a LOT of anxiety. Wouldn't you if Homeland Security was after you? :-)

3 days ago
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US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

fahrbot-bot Re:More proof (661 comments)

I wonder how they will feel about their lifestyles in 100 years, when they have to keep buying longer and longer snorkels just to get around in the non-tangible seawater surrounding their homes?

Do you have any idea what a snorkel is, or how it works? Have you ever used a snorkel? If you can't understand the physics of snorkel use, how can you possibly make the judgement that anthropogenic warming is real?

Ya, I know how a snorkel works and the physics involved - it was a joke, lighten up.

3 days ago
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US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

fahrbot-bot Re:More proof (661 comments)

the consensus view of the American public is that they do not want to sacrifice their lifestyles for the environment, especially in this case since the benefits are non-tangible

I wonder how they will feel about their lifestyles in 100 years, when they have to keep buying longer and longer snorkels just to get around in the non-tangible seawater surrounding their homes? The U.S. Navy, however, is taking climate change seriously: U.S. Navy bracing for climate change

4 days ago
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Microbots Deliver Medical Payload In Living Creature For the First Time

fahrbot-bot Re:Hype (41 comments)

delivering drugs to the stomach
aka, a pill

Beats the alternative delivery method (see the image AltText)

4 days ago
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Illinois Students Suspected of Cyberbullying Must Provide Social Media Passwords

fahrbot-bot Re:Misleading summary as usual (321 comments)

Leigh Lewis, superintendent of the Triad district, told me that if a student refuses to cooperate, the district could presumably press criminal charges.

I'm hard pressed to see how the *school district* could press charges as they are not a party to, or harmed by, the alleged accusations.

4 days ago
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Healthcare.gov Sends Personal Data To Over a Dozen Tracking Websites

fahrbot-bot Re:Can anyone think of (203 comments)

benefited enough people

It has hurt enough people that it is not suicide.

Citation seriously needed - from a reputable source. On balance, if you investigate this honestly, I suspect you'll find that the ACA has helped more than it has hurt. Sure, some people have had to pay higher premiums, but it is almost always for better coverage, and many people complaining didn't have any insurance, but now have coverage - especially people needing Medicaid. Ironically, people in Red states have benefited more than those in Blue states.

Here's a citation: Is the Affordable Care Act Working?, from 10/2014, quoting:

  1. Has the percentage of uninsured people been reduced?
    Answer: Yes, the number of uninsured has fallen significantly.
  2. Has insurance under the law been affordable?
    Answer: For many, yes, but not for all.
  3. Did the Affordable Care Act improve health outcomes?
    Answer: Data remains sparse except for one group, the young.
  4. Will the online exchanges work better this year than last?
    Answer: Most experts expect they will, but they will be tested by new challenges.
  5. Has the health care industry been helped or hurt by the law?
    Answer: The law mostly helped, by providing new paying patients and insurance customers.
  6. How has the expansion of Medicaid fared?
    Answer: Twenty-three states have opposed expansion, though several of them are reconsidering.
  7. Has the law contributed to a slowdown in health care spending?
    Answer: Perhaps, but mainly around the edges.

4 days ago
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The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

fahrbot-bot Re:So...don't be disposable. (263 comments)

This sounds a little insensitive, but, don't be disposable. You're a Windows admin. Great. So are a million other people. If you're a Windows admin who also knows some programming, there are maybe 250,000 people with your skill set. If you add in that you know some Linux, maybe 100,000 people.

What I'm saying is, if you want to be safer than the average employee, don't be average. Enhance your skill set.

Everyone is disposable. All companies care about is $$$.

Here's my experience, working for a *large* corporation... I have 25+ years (14 at my current company) as a Unix system programmer and system administrator with commensurate Linux and Windows experience - I've worked on just about every type of system from PCs to Cray super-computers. I am currently the lead developer of a three-person team on a cross-platform utility (Solaris,RedHat,Ubuntu,Windows) of about 300k lines of code in about 10 programming languages - 75% of which is my code - that is heavily used by our customers.

I was almost laid off last summer, simply because I was one of the most expensive people in my category of people on the contract. Even pleadings from my two managers to the higher ups that laying me off was inappropriate had no effect. The *only* thing that changed their minds was the realization that I also worked on *another* contract onto which some of my work could be (properly) charged.

4 days ago
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The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

fahrbot-bot Train vs. hire (263 comments)

They're deciding that it's faster and cheaper to chuck people overboard and find new ones than it is to retrain them. The economics of cutting rather than training may seem simple, but it's a more complex calculation than most people believe.

I would tend to agree that the calculation is more complex, but err on the side of retraining current employees. Learning a new skill, especially within your field of study, isn't often that difficult, but, for a new employee, learning the company's policies, procedures and well as documentation, development, build and delivery (etc) processes and the company culture is much more complex and, I would argue, more important. A wiz-bang employee that's not well integrated into the environment is a bigger problem than someone simply needing to learn another programming language. All that assumes, of course, that companies actually care, which, in my experience, large companies don't. "Employees are our most valuable asset" - my ass.

4 days ago
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Microsoft Reveals Windows 10 Will Be a Free Upgrade

fahrbot-bot Re:Rent seeking (567 comments)

indicating Windows would be software that users subscribe to, rather than buy outright

No thanks. Just like with Adobe CS, it looks like it's time to buy up some licenses before they disappear. I have no interest in renting my software.

Renting software, especially non-essential software, is one thing, but renting the OS, without which the system won't even function, is more akin to renting ransom-ware. (good move M$, he said sarcastically)

If, on the other hand, the system will still function - at full capacity - but just w/o further updates, then I predict many, many out-of-date systems (because people are fugal) - that is, until, more complete uses of "trusted computing" take hold and routers and/or network services deny access to systems that are not fully-patched. (off in the distance, he hears RMS giggling and muttering "wait for it...")

Also, how is this subscription service suppose to work? Am I suppose to give M$ my credit card number for recurring charges? I don't think so - although I imagine that's what many Apple consumers do (I don't know).

4 days ago
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Canonical Launches Internet-of-Things Version of Ubuntu Core

fahrbot-bot Just great... (43 comments)

"So we could deliver an update for a Heartbleed or Shellshock vulnerability, completely independently of the lawnmower control app that would come from the lawnmower company" Shuttleworth said.

... then I can have one system with both a patched container and an un-patched container. "Is your system up-to-date?" ... "Sort of." Now I can look forward to downloading the same patches N times, once for each container - thanks Mark, that's snappy!

4 days ago
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Regular Exercise Not Enough To Make Up For Sitting All Day

fahrbot-bot Re:Being Alive Shown to be Deadly. (348 comments)

And, in related news, as I've mentioned before, breathing cause death.

Fact: 100% of all dead people were habitual breathers.

5 days ago
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Drug Company CEO Blames Drug Industry For Increased Drug Resistance

fahrbot-bot Re:Slightly off topic... (136 comments)

Technically, so is yours (and this) ... :-)

about a week ago
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Drug Company CEO Blames Drug Industry For Increased Drug Resistance

fahrbot-bot Slightly off topic... (136 comments)

Poor controls mean that antibiotics are leaking out and getting into drinking water. They are in the fish and cattle that we eat, and global travel and exports mean bacteria are traveling.

And those fish, cattle and even people are getting those antibiotics for *free* - seriously impacting our bottom line and tight-fisted control over drugs that, in reality, don't really cost as much as we say they do to research and manufacture, but we sell for a metric fuck-ton of cash.

According to this NY Times article, $2.6 Billion to Develop a Drug? New Estimate Makes Questionable Assumptions are an "estimate that drug companies could have made more money if they used their research investment for things other than drug development."

In both of these announcements, a significant amount of the costs to develop the drugs were opportunity, or time, costs. They are the returns that might be expected, but that investors went without, while a drug was in development. When a drug company invests in research and development, it is tying up money that could otherwise be invested elsewhere. In this announcement, the Tufts Center says that $1.2 billion of the $2.6 billion is time costs.

The end of the article notes:

In 2010, a systematic review of studies that looked at the cost of drug development was published in Health Policy. The review found 13 articles, with estimates ranging from $161 million to $1.8 billion (in 2009 dollars). Obviously, methodology matters.

That's a far cry from $2.6 Billion.

about a week ago

Submissions

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Sound Waves as Effective as Brain Surgery at Treating Essential Tremor

fahrbot-bot fahrbot-bot writes  |  about a year and a half ago

fahrbot-bot (874524) writes "Scalpel-free surgery using focused sound waves appears to be as effective in treating essential tremor as traditional surgery that requires drilling into the skull, a groundbreaking clinical trial at the University of Virginia Health System has found.

All 15 participants in U.Va.'s trial saw a substantial reduction in their involuntary shaking after undergoing the experimental focused ultrasound procedure. The rate of side effects was similar to that of traditional brain surgery. The patients were able to leave the hospital the next day."

Link to Original Source
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Saudi Royal Backs Imam and Fox News

fahrbot-bot fahrbot-bot writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fahrbot-bot (874524) writes "In an awkward moment on Fox News this week, a pundit suggested that a member of the Saudi royal family who has supported the bridge-building work of the imam behind a planned Muslim community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan “funds radical madrasas all over the world.” The awkwardness came from the fact — unmentioned by anyone on the Fox set — that the same Saudi, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, also happens to be the second-largest shareholder in News Corp., the parent company of the Fox News Channel."
Link to Original Source
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Computer Engineer Barbie coming soon...

fahrbot-bot fahrbot-bot writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fahrbot-bot (874524) writes "The Register is reporting, well, the title says it all... From the article and Mattel website:

To ensure the doll accurately reflects this occupation, Barbie® designers worked with the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering to ensure that accessories, clothing and packaging were realistic and representative of a real computer engineer. Looking geek chic, Computer Engineer Barbie® wears a t-shirt featuring binary code and computer/keyboard icon along with a pair of black knit skinny pants. Computer Engineer carries a Barbie® smart phone, fashionable laptop case, flat watch and Bluetooth earpiece. With stylish pink-frame glasses and a shiny laptop, she is ready to conquer the day’s tasks on the go or from her desk."

Link to Original Source
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Couple stranded 3 days after GPS leads them astray

fahrbot-bot fahrbot-bot writes  |  about 5 years ago

fahrbot-bot (874524) writes "A couple's SUV gets stranded in deep snow for three days on a remote Forest Service Road after they blindly followed the directions from their GPS-enabled cell — don't worry, they got rescued using the very same phone. Now, I don't have any GPS devices — I use printed maps (ask your parents) — and am curious about the circumstances. Have or would you blindly follow your GPS unit — anywhere?"
Link to Original Source
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Jet-fighter raygun soon, sharks next.

fahrbot-bot fahrbot-bot writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fahrbot-bot (874524) writes "The Register reports: HELL-beam project now one step from jet-fighter raygun, DARPA fridge laser. Advantage: Shark. From TFA: The US military will shortly issue a brace of contracts for "refrigerator sized" laser blaster cannons. One of the deals will see a full-power ground prototype built which will be the final stage prior to America's first raygun-equipped jet fighter.

If it scales down far enough, this would seem to put handheld HELL-guns within an order of magnitude of the striking power offered by conventional small-arms. A 9mm pistol bullet has about 750 joules muzzle energy: a 5kg portable HELL-ray weapon would put out this much energy in a blast less than a second long.

A dolphin can carry a human being weighing up to 100kg along for a ride. A thoroughbred shark in good training can surely match this. Thus, we seem to be looking at practicable head-lazor output in the 20-kilowatt range..."

Link to Original Source
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Vatican Endorses Darwin, but not ID

fahrbot-bot fahrbot-bot writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fahrbot-bot (874524) writes "The Times Online (and others) are reporting that:

The Vatican has admitted that Charles Darwin was on the right track when he claimed that Man descended from apes.

A leading official declared yesterday that Darwin's theory of evolution was compatible with Christian faith, and could even be traced to St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas. "In fact, what we mean by evolution is the world as created by God," said Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The Vatican also dealt the final blow to speculation that Pope Benedict XVI might be prepared to endorse the theory of Intelligent Design, whose advocates credit a "higher power" for the complexities of life."

Link to Original Source
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Palin: Africa is a continent?

fahrbot-bot fahrbot-bot writes  |  more than 6 years ago

fahrbot-bot (874524) writes "The Guardian, and others, are reporting the following Newsweek story: Palin Didn't Know Africa Is A Continent

Fox News, a channel that had been generally flattering in its coverage of the "Palin phenomenon", reported that aides were astonished when they learned she was unaware that Africa was not a country but a whole continent. She was also said to be unable to name the countries that belong to the North American Free Trade Agreement: the US, Mexico and Canada. ...

The most colourful new information concerned Palin's spending spree on the campaign trail. Newsweek reported that she ended up spending far more than the $150,000 (£93,000) that was already known about, with up to $40,000 being lavished on her husband, Todd.

A wealthy donor who had offered to pay was shocked, Newsweek said, when he got the bill from the high-end retailers Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. One McCain aide characterised the episode to the magazine as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast".

Google +Palin +Africa +"Fox News" for many, many links..."
Link to Original Source

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Court: US can block mad cow testing

fahrbot-bot fahrbot-bot writes  |  more than 6 years ago

fahrbot-bot (874524) writes "Apparently the USDA is keen on protecting the profit margins of the Beef Industry.

The Bush administration can prohibit meat packers from testing their animals for mad cow disease, a federal appeals court said Friday. ... Larger meat packers opposed such testing. If Creekstone Farms Premium Beef began advertising that its cows have all been tested, other companies fear they too will have to conduct the expensive tests.

(A slightly longer article can be found on Reuters: Court bars meatpacker tests for mad cow.)

While extra testing may be unnecessary, if Creekstone believes they can perform these extra tests, assume the increased liability for any testing failures and succeed in the market place, then why should the Government interfere? I thought the "Free Market" was suppose to sort these things out. In addition, perhaps the market pressures of increased testing will drive the development of less expensive and more reliable testing, and 100% testing may provide assurances to foreign markets wishing to import U.S. beef. Then again, perhaps the Government doesn't actually want to test more than the current 1% of all cows..."

Link to Original Source

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