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Do Good Programmers Need Agents?

jandersen Rock star? (213 comments)

Rock star programmers? Seriously? When I was a teenager, some 40 years ago, computer programming was considered incredibly awesome, something on par with Einstein, but nowadays programmers are seen more like accountants, and rightly so: You have to know the sometimes very intricate rules, and you have to be the sort of person who likes to keep prodding at a problem until you get it right - and accountant, IOW. How many Rock Star Accountants do we know of?

2 days ago
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Facebook Planning Office Version To Rival LinkedIn, Google

jandersen Re:Blocked on proxies (91 comments)

Yea sure, business will want to unblock Facebook on their proxies just because you have a "For Work" version. It will not happen.

Who knows? Who cares? I currently work for a large company, where they actively encourage staff to use Linkedin and also have an internal, social thingie. I have been there once; all I saw was sales account managers and similar - the ones who enjoy grazing on their own navel fluff, basically.

3 days ago
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Comet Probe Philae To Deploy Drill As Battery Life Wanes

jandersen Re:Huh (223 comments)

Why do all the comparisons involve a non-powered ballistic object like a bullet or in this case a hammer.

Because it is a rather good comparison. Although the Rosetta has thrusters, for most of the 10 years it has taken to get to the comet, it was not moving under power, and in fact, unlike throwing a hammer from London to New Delhi, its trajectory was nothing as simple as a ballistic curve; apparently it passed by the Earth twice, and the 'nail' it was supposed to hit, was moving rather fast. Perhaps a better comaprison would have been playing billiars on an enormous table that wasn't flat, where all the bumps and valleys moved around and the target roaring across at the far end. The chances of ending up a million miles away from the target were significant.

3 days ago
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Comet Probe Philae To Deploy Drill As Battery Life Wanes

jandersen Re:Huh (223 comments)

Do you have a source for that claim?

Nothing more precise than the news broadcasts on BBC4 on the morning when the probe actually landed. Lots of talk about how many of the scientists involved had been involved from the very beginning, 30 years ago. You should be able to get more precise answers if you email BBC4's newsteam, there are quite good at responding.

3 days ago
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Comet Probe Philae To Deploy Drill As Battery Life Wanes

jandersen Re:Huh (223 comments)

It seems to me the design and/or planning of this mission were poorly thought out, it's obvious the comet has a rough surface, they knew there would be shadows.

The planning for this mission was started 30 years ago - in 1984; 5 years before the Berlin Wall came down, 7 years before the Soviet Union was dissolved, 3 years after the first IBM PC was released. This mission has been compared to "throwing a hammer from London and hitting a nail in New Delhi".

Imagine that - the IBM PC with its 16 KB of RAM was advanced, for gods' sakes! It may be that it is easy to sit in front of your top-of-the-bloody-range games PC and imagine that 'it can't be that hard', but the fact is that it would be very hard even today, and the fact that we actually have anything man-made touching the surface of an actual comet at this moment is mindblowing. It was only really designed to run a few measurements on its main battery, and even that was considered beyond what we could reasonably expect; the secondary battery and solarpanels were more of a "you never know, we might get lucky". This mission has already been a huge success.

about a week ago
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US School Installs 'Shooter Detection' System

jandersen Re:Benefits, but still misses the point... (693 comments)

Sorry, I forgot to highlight my sarcasm once more, in the post you replied to.

No, you were trying to mock the GP poster's claims that shootings could be stopped by arming teachers with your hyperbolic post,

And the difference is? Sarcasm generally involves mocking somebody gently, or sometimes not quite so gently.

... while utterly ignoring the fact that mass shootings are only stopped when the GOOD GUYS WITH GUNS finally show up.

I know of no such fact. While it is undeniable that the shootings normally stop when the shooter is subdued, I am aware of no data to suggest that this is the only way to prevent the killing of innocent victims. Howling your claims out in what appears to be a rather hysterical voice does not in itself constitute proof.

And all that's utterly ignoring the fact the gun ownership is a Constitutionally-protected individual right. It's a much stronger right than any right to abortion or gay marriage.

You do go on about 'facts', don't you? And 'rights' as well, I see. First of all, the American Constitution is only valid in America, and secondly, the claims about gun-ownership are not without dispute, I believe. The 2nd Amendment was introduced at a time when the state was yet mature enough to uphold the rule of the law everywhere; also, here is a quote from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_U.S._Constitution):

In United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that, "The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence" and limited the applicability of the Second Amendment to the federal government.[9] In United States v. Miller (1939), the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government and the states could limit any weapon types not having a "reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia".[10][11]

about a week ago
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US School Installs 'Shooter Detection' System

jandersen Re:Benefits, but still misses the point... (693 comments)

You are so right - it is LACK OF WEAPONS that is causing all these shootings. So, instead of installing security systems, let's install automatic rocket launchers in all schools, and while we're at it, why not put something like VX gas or anthrax in the little perfume dispensers in the toilets?

about a week ago
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GNOME Project Seeks Donations For Trademark Battle With Groupon

jandersen Re:Huh? (268 comments)

On the other hand, it is such a plausible lie, don't you agree? ;-)

about a week ago
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How To End Online Harassment

jandersen Re:The right to offend ... (827 comments)

Look, sometimes someone's religion does little more than incite hatred.

Does that mean that we should do the same? I'm not preaching 'Turn the other cheek' - but there are intelligent ways of responding to hate talk.

So, I'm really really sorry religious people can be whiny, self entitled assholes who believe it's their right to be whiny, self entitled assholes.

But if you think your religion gives you the right to spread hate about others, you should not expect your status as a whiny, self entitled asshole to mean that you don't get the same in reverse.

If your religion says "God hates fags", or "Burn the niggers" ... or any of the other crap which comes out of religions ... then your religion isn't deserving of any special protection.

Because you're just using it as a shield to be a bigoted asshole, and you deserve to be treated the exact same way.

People who think their religion gives them unlimited right to say anything about anybody else, but that they should be shielded from criticism are hypocrites and assholes, not some protected class of people.

I agree. The law applies to all; religious hate speech is just hate speech, full stop.

about two weeks ago
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How To End Online Harassment

jandersen Re:Boycott (827 comments)

If I hadn't already posted the comment you reply to, I would have modded your funny +1 :-)

So, I'll have to do the next best and reply instead.

And I suppose everything you say goes inside that 1%, right?

Well, modesty forbids ... However, I do strive to always make intelligent posts, rather than just shoot off my gob.

(Some people would consider that the first step would be to get rid of those who apparently never learned to use semicolons, or those who can't spell, or those who talk about "the original purpose of the internet")

Not to mention those who put too much significance on minor errors, rather than trying to actually understand what is being communicated. I don't mind - I lose nothing just because some lack the ability to discuss content instead of form.

about two weeks ago
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GNOME Project Seeks Donations For Trademark Battle With Groupon

jandersen Re:Huh? (268 comments)

Any way, it shouldn't be a problem; they could just use a translation of the word 'Gnome' - for example, in Swedish: Nissan. Problem solved.

about two weeks ago
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Earth's Oxygen History Could Explain "Darwin's Dilemma" In Evolution

jandersen A matter of perspective (78 comments)

... evolution didn't go into high gear until the "Cambrian Explosion", ...

I'm not sure I believe that - one could reasonably argue that the growth in complexity from a soup of ribozymes to the first cell, was comparable to the leap from single-celled organisms to multicelled; or possibly far more involved than that. Another major leap was from prokaryotes to eukaryotes, a necessary precondition for (most) multicelled life, it would appear. What happened at the Cambrian explosion was probably just that now the organisms got big and touch enough to leave fossils.

about two weeks ago
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Worrying Aspects of Linux Gaming

jandersen Content, content, content! (265 comments)

What I'd really want to see happening is that somebody would finally manage to be successful by consecrating on actual game content worth spending time on.

You know, I played my first computer games some 35 years ago - it's actually scary to think about those numbers; games like 'Colossal Cave' on a Cyber computer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossal_Cave_Adventure) or the first platform hoppers (character based on CP/M). What is really scare, though, is that content-wise nothing has ever moved since then. I don't give a toss about whether Linux has the very best driver for the latest ultra-, hyper-, super graphics card out there, because the games are still the same, old, tired re-run. It's like a $1000 gift card for MacDonalds - yeah, it's worth $1000, but on the other hand, it's for MacDonald's.

about two weeks ago
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How To End Online Harassment

jandersen Re:The right to offend ... (827 comments)

The right to offend is more important than the right not to be offended.

True. But that is not the point here, nor is it the point of legislation against stirring up hatred against religious groups. Criticising or making jokes about others is orders of magnitude away from inciting hatred or bullying a vulnerable person. The difference is in the consequences and the intentions: if you joke about religion, it is well-intended, but if you incite hatred, you are actively trying to harm somebody. It's like sex vs rape; one is good, the other is bad, and most people accept that there is a fundamental difference.

"Freedom of speech" once meant simply that everybody had the right to express their political or religious opinions without fear of being persecuted by the authorities. Nowadays it appears to be used as an excuse for why you can't be held to account for anything you say at all, no matter what the consequences. Call me old-fashioned, but I disagree with that notion - to my mind, you always have to face up to the consequences of what you do, freedom or not. If you drive like an idiot and kill somebody, you're guilty of man-slaughter; if you bully a vulnerable person online and they commit suicide, you're guilty of the same; if you incite hatred and your followers lynch somebody, the same applies. The last example is no different from the concept of corporate man-slaughter, which most people find very reasonable.

about two weeks ago
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How To End Online Harassment

jandersen Re:Boycott (827 comments)

If we do that, there will be very, very little left of the internet, or any other medium.

I don't think so. People who have something worthwhile to say are usually intelligent and experienced enough to know that being abusive is counterproductive; so, if we got rid of all the abusers and the sites that thrive on them, what is left is actually the 1% or so that is worht spending time and money on - the part that was the actual, original purpose of the internet.

about two weeks ago
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Discovery Claims It Will Show a Man Being "Eaten Alive" By an Anaconda

jandersen Watch The Man Eating Chicken!!!! (164 comments)

It sounds to astonishingly outrageous that one has to expect that it is simply a variant of the old joke about the 'Man eating chicken': Sounds like 'Man-eating chicken', but is actually 'Man, eating chicken'.

about two weeks ago
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Marijuana Legalized In Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC

jandersen Two predictions (588 comments)

Now that cannabis is legal in Washington, I think we can look forward to -

1. Much mellower politics
2. A massive increase in sales of snacks in the area around the Conress

about two weeks ago
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What People Want From Smart Homes

jandersen Sales talk (209 comments)

Oh gods, another sales drone trying to raise the non-issue of how we can cram irrelevant technology into people's lives, so they can suck a larger part of our blood?

I think most of us realise that the home serves a number of intensely practical purposes: preparing food, eating food, sleeping etc. Just take the kitchen, where probably the most technical gear is concentrated, even if we don't quite think of it as such: cookers, ovens, mixers and what have you. A good kitchen is a workshop, first and foremost, and what do you need in a good workshop? Good tools: pots, pans, bowls, knives; how much better would it be to have a networked knife or a spoon with a host of remote sensors built in? Not a lot, I bet.

about two weeks ago
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Computer Scientists Say Meme Research Doesn't Threaten Free Speech

jandersen Re:The first step to control (109 comments)

It's hard to control a thing without being able to analyze it.

It is also hard to produce biological weapons without first analyzing how disease spreads; but that knowledge is also necessary in order to control and cure diseases. All knowledge is a two-edged sword, but ignorance gives you no benefits; it just makes you easier to control by those in power. The problem is not that 'the government' studies it or even that they use it, the real problem is if it is kept secret. One would expect that the government of a democratic society would be less likely to keep secrets than a private company, for example; a company has an interest in keeping their competitors in the dark, whereas a government ideally works for the interest of ALL its citizens, right? So, less of a reason to keep secrets.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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10 TB cloud storage for free

jandersen jandersen writes  |  1 year,1 day

jandersen (462034) writes "Chinese Tencent are going to launch a free, 10TB cloud storage service:

http://pandodaily.com/2013/11/18/tencent-to-launch-international-version-of-free-10tb-storage-service-new-photo-sharing-app-coming-soon-to-us/

10TB is some 5000 times more than Dropbox, and 666 times more than what you get with Google (Yes, I know, that number keeps cropping up, doesn't it?)

What will no doubt worry people is that it is a Chinese company, although they are planning to store the data outside of China. I guess, with the NSA scandal unfolding, it is just a question of choosing your poison."
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Arctic thaw may be first in cascade of tipping points

jandersen jandersen writes  |  about a year and a half ago

jandersen writes "Here's an article from New Scientist that's guaranteed to arouse yet another controversy (from http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729064.500-arctic-thaw-may-be-first-in-cascade-of-tipping-points.html):

ONE climate domino has fallen, and it may start toppling others. A recent study outlined an interconnected web of climate tipping points, some of which make the next ones more likely. Now, an analysis of data from the last 23 years suggests we passed the first of these tipping points in 2007, when Arctic sea ice flipped into a new, less stable state. That may speed the world towards the next tipping point – the thaw of a vast expanse of Siberian permafrost.

New Scientist is sometimes criticised for being sensationalist, but this article seems sober to me: it is well referenced, and they try to include opposing viewpoints to balance it. If what they say is true, we may be in for a series of increasingly dramatic changes, and sooner rather than later."
Link to Original Source

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EU to spend 1 billion euro on graphene and brain research

jandersen jandersen writes  |  about a year and a half ago

jandersen (462034) writes "The EU is going to spend 100 million per year over the next 10 years to boost research and interdisciplinary cooperation by launching two flagship projects in March:

- The Human Brain Project: Aims "to develop a large-scale ICT infrastructure for the specific purpose of understanding the brain and its diseases, and of translating this knowledge into new computing technology." Basically, they want to build a working computer model of a human brain. (http://www.humanbrainproject.eu/in_brief.html)

- The Graphene Flagship: Aims "to take graphene and related layered materials from academic laboratories to society, revolutionize multiple industries and create economic growth and new jobs in Europe." (http://www.graphene-flagship.eu/GF/index.php)

How cool is that? For more info, see http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/ict/programme/fet/flagship/home_en.html — but be warned: this is EU, and understanding the whole setup is fiendishly complicated."
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Ask Slashdot: Server room toolbox?

jandersen jandersen writes  |  about 2 years ago

jandersen writes "I am the system manager in charge of a smallish server room (~50 servers, most in racks), and I am going to buy a set of tools; but first I want to hear what other people think would be a good idea.

Certainly a range of good quality screwdrivers — slotted, Phillips, Pozidriv, Torx (here for the whole range of strange screwdriver standards: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_screw_drives). But what else? Tape measure? Spirit level (for aligning the racks)? Any meters or cable testers? A wood lathe? I can probably get away with a budget of a few hundred GBP, but there ought to be some mileage in that."
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The revolution is coming

jandersen jandersen writes  |  more than 2 years ago

jandersen writes "According to Peter Turchin, University of Connecticut, we may be heading towards serious, social unrest within a decade (article on New Scientist — registration (free) required: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528781.800-calculated-violence-numbers-that-predict-revolutions.html?full=true):

The mathematics underpinning the rise and fall of empires suggest that the US faces imminent and bloody unrest. How worried should we be?

Is he on to something? Note, this is not a head-in-the-clouds-prophet speaking, but a real scientist, who proposes a real theory: a falsifiable hypothesis; and as he says ""It is easier to predict timing than the height of the peak. My feeling is that it's going to be worse than we expect. Hopefully I'm wrong — I have to live through this."."
Link to Original Source

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A sad tale: US gov online visa app

jandersen jandersen writes  |  more than 4 years ago

jandersen (462034) writes "It was recently my fortune to have to assist in applying for a US visa for a Chinese citizen living in London. This turned out to be a very painful journey, not least because of the online application form — give it a whirl yourselves:

https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/

- and here is the video that introduces it:

http://www.youtube.com/user/USEmbassyLondon#p/u/1/LSd6gYr-aSs

Don't worry, it isn't dangerous, and the effects can mostly be fixed with counselling, eventually.

On top of the horrors of this supremely inept piece of code, you get to be treated with a mixture of hostility and indifference at the embassy plus constant demands for further documents about trivial nonsense — like "You state that you went to primary school x until such and such date, but didn't enter secondary school until 6 months later; what did you do in that time?"; presumably they have words like "training camp" rolling around the vast empty spaces in their heads (makes you wonder what they would think of an American teenager who has been to "boot camp" — now there's damning evidence if ever there was)

And what do they expect to hear when they ask "Are you coming over to commit terrorist offences?" — "Oh dear, it's a fair cop, they've caught me now, right enough. And there was I, wondering if terrorism would require a work permit.""
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What Open Source Forum SW is best

jandersen jandersen writes  |  more than 5 years ago

jandersen writes "I want to do something about improving morale and team-spirit in the company where I am the UNIX manager; and I thought it might be good to run some sort of social forum where people can engage in intellectual discussions on a high level, just like on Slashdot. People will, of course, waste time there — at least if you ask management — but I don't think of it as wasted. After all, people tend to "waste time" talking about sport and solving the great problems of the world any way, so why not put it on a server? And the thing is — this is a global company, and we don't really know our colleagues in India, China, Europe and so on. But which software should I choose? There seems to be a lot of for forum/BSS software around; what I want is something similar to /. — I like the concept of users being able to mod each others up and down — and it has to be open source, rather not Java, and run on Linux. Other than that, I am open to suggestions. What does the people think?"
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Non-violent, cooperative games?

jandersen jandersen writes  |  about 6 years ago

jandersen writes "While I generally don't really play computer games, I do occasionally play games like Crossfire or The Mana World, because they have more of a story line and allow you to go at your own pace; they require a little bit more intellect and less testosterone, perhaps. What I don't care much about, though, is that they are still basically about killing monsters and amassing wealth, and it gets very tedious after a while.

Are there really no games where the goal isn't so much about increasing your own power and defeating others, but where you instead grow by doing things that benefit others, where enemies shouldn't be killed out of hand, but befriended, where learning, teaching, research and social skills are more important than killing and conquering? Would people be interested in a game of that nature?"

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