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Researchers Test Developer Biometrics To Predict Buggy Code

handy_vandal Developers as novelists (89 comments)

... really good developers are more a cross between engineers and artists.


When talking with non-developers about developers, I use the simile that developers are like novelists, who work out stories in their heads, and commit those stories to paper.

A novel contains a set of symbols which, taken collectively, and written correctly, form an impressive body of knowledge that can change the world. (Tolstoy's "War and Peace" is my usual example.)

But if the symbols are faulty -- if the book is badly written, if the grammar and spelling are faulty -- then the book will fail to sell, fail to make its point, fail to change the world.

about a week ago

Larry Page: Healthcare Data Mining Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

handy_vandal (186 comments)

Thank you.

about a month ago

Larry Page: Healthcare Data Mining Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

handy_vandal Re:More creepiness (186 comments)

The idea of a back-talking robot cigar reminds me of this passage from Ubik:

Back in the kitchen he fished in his various pockets for a dime, and with it started up the coffeepot. Sniffing the—to him—very unusual smell, he again consulted his watch, saw that fifteen minutes had passed; he therefore vigorously strode to the apt door, turned the knob and pulled on the release bolt. The door refused to open. It said, “Five cents, please.”

He searched his pockets. No more coins; nothing. “I’ll pay you tomorrow,” he told the door. Again he tried the knob. Again it remained locked tight. “What I pay you,” he informed it, “is in the nature of a gratuity; I don’t have to pay you.”

“I think otherwise,” the door said. “Look in the purchase contract you signed when you bought this conapt.”

In his desk drawer he found the contract; since signing it he had found it necessary to refer to the document many times. Sure enough; payment to his door for opening and shutting constituted a mandatory fee. Not a tip.

“You discover I’m right,” the door said. It sounded smug.

From the drawer beside the sink Joe Chip got a stainless-steel knife; with it he began systematically to unscrew the bolt assembly of his apt’s money-gulping door.

“I’ll sue you,” the door said as the first screw fell out.

Joe Chip said, “I’ve never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it.”

-- Ubik by Philip K. Dick

about a month ago

Larry Page: Healthcare Data Mining Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

handy_vandal "Rectum" and "detonate on contact" (186 comments)

"Rectum" and "detonate on contact" ... your answer may serve Justice -- but who will clean up the mess?

about a month ago

Larry Page: Healthcare Data Mining Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

handy_vandal (186 comments)

"Customers who suffered this disease also purchased diagnostic tests for ..."

about a month ago

The Mifos Project Makes Software To 'Accelerate Microfinance' (Video)

handy_vandal "Cycle of poverty" is not a metaphor (39 comments)

Agreed, "cycle of poverty" is a descriptive phrase, not a metaphor. Poor writing on my part; thank you for calling me out.

I like the excited electron model of entrepreneurship, because electron-entrepreneur commonly de-excite and fall back to lower orbital shells.

By the same token, I can see how many restaurateur-entrepreneurs achieve creamy Alfredo-sauceness with just a hint of garlic, yet some revert to bread and water.

about 3 months ago

The Mifos Project Makes Software To 'Accelerate Microfinance' (Video)

handy_vandal Poverty Metaphors (39 comments)

"... become entrepreneurs and break the cycle of poverty that holds them down."

The phrase "cycle of poverty" -- while meaningful, and sad -- is a tired metaphor.

Successful entrepreneurs are more like excited electrons, jumping to a higher orbital shell.

about 3 months ago

"Nearly Unbreakable" Encryption Scheme Inspired By Human Biology

handy_vandal Mod Parent +Insightful (179 comments)

... discover something new about the human rhythms by examining this scheme

More like this, please.

about 4 months ago

Square Market Now Accepts Bitcoin

handy_vandal Too Cheap to Meter (94 comments)

3-D Movies at Home + Nuclear Power = Entertainment Too Cheap to Meter!

about 4 months ago

NSA Infiltrated RSA Deeper Than Imagined

handy_vandal Trustworthiness: what can be done? (168 comments)

While it's entirely possible to create trustworthy hardware, I don't know how it's possible to convey the trustworthiness. What you can do, which is probably as good as can be done, is to create things such that individually subverted instances of the hardware could be trivially distinguished from the standard issue hardware.

Yes. I think you have nailed it, right on the head.

about 4 months ago

Introducing a Calendar System For the Information Age

handy_vandal Long Now Foundation: The 10,000 Year Clock (224 comments)

The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996* to develop the Clock and Library projects, as well as to become the seed of a very long-term cultural institution. The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide a counterpoint to today's accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common. We hope to creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.


about 4 months ago

In the Unverified Digital World, Are Journalists and Bloggers Equal?

handy_vandal Can't be too careful (156 comments)

Censor them all, and let the NSA sort them out.

about 4 months ago

A Look at the NSA's Most Powerful Internet Attack Tool

handy_vandal Mod Parent +Informative (154 comments)

Well said. I would mod you up if I had mod points.

about 4 months ago

Sniffing Out Cancer With Electronic Noses

handy_vandal Pheromone detectors (22 comments)

Let's be honest: we men want a sensor that will detect how badly a woman needs sex.

about 5 months ago

Police Say No Foul Play In Death of Bitcoin Exchange CEO Autumn Radtke

handy_vandal Mod parent +Sick-But-Funny (126 comments)

If involvement in second life isn't a marker for potential lifelong clinical depression, then I don't know what is.

A horrible thing to say about a possible suicide.

But it made me laugh.

We are not perfect.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Does Your Employer Perform HTTPS MITM Attacks On Employees?

handy_vandal Evil? (572 comments)

Second question: how evil is this practice?

about 5 months ago
top Resurrects 'Flappy Bird' As Programming Lesson

handy_vandal Retraction, apology (72 comments)

I withdraw the word "surly" -- it's not appropriate here, and I apologize. Your phrase "The only exception I take ..." is not surly.

Also, I am pleased that you concluded your post with a sentiment that matches my own:

On the other hand, sparking that interest is fairly key. Shrug, if it works, it works.

about 5 months ago
top Resurrects 'Flappy Bird' As Programming Lesson

handy_vandal "Flood of useless coders" ...? (72 comments)

... flood of useless coders ...

Who cares? What harm is done? It's not like these noobies are going to be our new co-workers, now or ever. It's not like they are taking bread from our mouths.

We should be happy that beginners take an interest in coding, not surly over some imagined insult to the collective intelligence of coders.

about 5 months ago

Online Database Allows Scientists To Recreate Early Telescopes

handy_vandal Early Telescopes: rivalry and mysticism (52 comments)

Galileo and other early inventors were bitter rivals for the secrets of optics. Lots of deception, aggrandizement, hard feelings and litigation.

Ancient tales of magical mirrors play a part in the tale of telescopy. We have numerous accounts of, say, a man atop the highest tower in Alexandria, who, with the aid of a magical glass, can see all that happens in London. These tall tales go on and on -- magical mirrors and lenses which see distant sights, peers around corners, see through walls ... mostly far-fetched, yet meaningful in an age of discovery.

I read a book on the topic -- the title escapes me, sorry -- thin, scholarly study. Good stuff, recommended.

about 5 months ago


handy_vandal hasn't submitted any stories.



handy_vandal handy_vandal writes  |  more than 10 years ago
I'm some guy who's liked -- loved, adored -- computers since he was a kid. I was a teenager in the early-mid seventies ... writing BASIC on a 300 baud TTY, playing Dogfight over PLATO, reading Computer Lib and The Network Nation ... that should place me.

Roundabout the mid-nineties, when email was becoming a commonplace and the World Wide Web was taking off, I thought:

Finally -- it's about time ...!

Well, the Golden Age of the Nineties had to end. With the coming of twenty-first century globalization, my former lucrative career as a freelance programmer has seriously dried up. I still manage to make part of my living as a coder -- which is a good thing, I love coding for it's own sake, love it like a novelist loves writing novels. But it looks like the party is mostly over, chances are if I want to stay in the IT game, I'll end up writing specs and outsource the work to India.

I like irony, really I do. It's much better than a world without irony. Irony is funny plus sad in one pill. Only problem is, I forget whether it's the blue pill or the red pill ....


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