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Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

kwikrick Re:Today, I would never have learned programming (608 comments)

Amen!

My first computer was an IBM 8068 clone. It came with GWBasic and a programming manual. There wasn't much else you could do with it, but it was fun, and I have been programming for hobby and professionally ever since.

Programming has not gotten easier over the years. That's mostly because I set more and more difficult challanges for myself. But getting started on a new device or platform (Android, iOS, Windows8, The Web, etc), even a simple "hello world", is also much more difficult than it was back in the early 90s.

One reason is that, by default, computers do not come with a programming environment anymore. There are many tools and programming lanuguages too choose from, but that doesn't make it easier, because many of those are aimed at a particular kind of application, while not so handy for other tasks.There are of course very powerful general purpose languages languages, tools, frameworks and libraries, but they are also much harder to learn and master. And there are lots of educational languages too, intended for learning to program, but they aren't used much for serious work. So which one too choose? How many languages, frameworks, tools, API's, will you need to learn?

More importantly, the kind of applications and games that kids are now used to, are way more complex than what I played with when I was a kid. Expectations are higher: fancy graphics, slick UI's, networking, multi-tasking, etc. Yes, more powerful tools and languages are available, and they can hide some of the complexity, but it's still there, and you will need to master that complexity, or you'll be limited in what you can build.

Finally, you can download a ton of apps, games, for free! Why bother writing your own?

I think in principle, learning to program is not that much more difficult than it was, but kids will need more guidance, someone to help them get started, pick the right tools, exercies, examples, and keep them motivated. Or perhaps some thing? An killer app, or a cool new device, that requires you to learn programming? But programmable robots never became very popular, even Lego Mindstorms is pretty rare. Maybe because of the price tag.

about three weeks ago
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3mm Inexpensive Chip Revolutionizes Electron Accelerators

kwikrick Re:so we wasted a shit load of money on colliders? (113 comments)

These new devices only accelerate electrons. For high energy physics research other particles need to be accelerated and collided, e,g, hadrons (hence the name Large Hadron Collider) It's unclear if the same tech can be used for other particles. Rubbish TFA.

about 10 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Suitable Phone For a 4-Year Old?

kwikrick Re:don't (682 comments)

I feel the same way, but i know i'm wrong. People have many needs, but most of them are not essential. The majority of us (in Europe and the US anyway) already have food, shelter, clothes, etc, so we focus on cell phones. A cell phone is much easier to obtain than immaterial things like friendship, fulfillment, happiness, etc. It's the sadly ironic human condition.

Anyway, cell phones can be useful at times and I can even imagine a situation where it might be useful for a father removed from his 4yr old. May be there is a better solution than a cell phone for the kid, which brings its own problems... really don't have enough information to judge.

about 10 months ago
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RMS On Why Free Software Is More Important Now Than Ever Before

kwikrick congratulations (319 comments)

Thank you rms, for fighting for our freedom for 30 years!

about 10 months ago
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Mitsuku Chatbot Wins Loebner Prize 2013

kwikrick Re:questions (78 comments)

of course, Turing's original idea was to device a test for intelligence in a computer. That seems useful, having an intelligent computer. Lacking a good definition for intelligence, Turing decided that a good test would be for the computer to convincingly pretend to be a human, which are supposedly intelligent. Now it seems that passing for a human is not that hard after all. Mostly this is because humans can be stupid, unreasonable, distracted, emotional, etc. All these states can be simulated, with fairly simple algorithms to generate a particular kind of responses, avoiding the need to really understand the conversation.

I still think Turing's original idea is a good one, only it needs to be more specific: pretend to be a professor in electrical engineering, who's sober, trying to be helpful, with a wife, two kids and a dog, etc. Or something like that; the point being, someone you can have an intelligent conversation with. Not: pretend to be a bored 13 year old in a chat room who's trying to out-funny you.

about 10 months ago
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Toronto Family Bans All Technology In Their Home Made After 1986

kwikrick my 2yr old (534 comments)

My 2 year old loves playing with tablets, phones, computers, electronic toys, etc. I have to admit I sometimes worry about that a bit. On the one hand i feel that it's actually good - she'll need those skills in her future - and i'm proud that those little fingers already know how to navigate user interfaces. She's learning words and pictures from playing simple games and toddler apps. On the other hand, i worry that stuff is overstimulating - bright colors, music, sounds, pictures of cute little animals - like candy wrappers, made to attract kids to something unhealthy, and addictive. Also, most apps are very limited and repetitive, not engaging a child's creativity.

But then, what do i do when I've got some free time? I sit behind my computer, or in front of the tv, mostly. And kids imitate what their parents do. Also I have to admit I do find it convenient to have my hand free when she's focused on a led screen.

Fortunately, my little girl also loves to go outside. If I leave her with the tablet, she'll get bored after a while and will want to do something else. She'll come to me and drag me outside.

So, if your kid spends a lot of time playing with electronic toys, it's probably because they're imitating you. You want you kid to do more creative stuff, art & crafts, do it yourself! Do the dishes by hand, and they'll want to help out. Kids can moderate themselves, but they don't want to do what you want them to do when you want them to. Sometimes you'll need to force them to do things, but try to avoid it. Instead, be ready to join in their activities. So if your child wants to go outside in the rain, put on your boots and go stamp in some puddles together. Technology may be a bit additive (not immune myself) but making it illegal will only make it more attractive. Let technology work for you, let them learn from it, and enjoy it, while you can do something else, or join in the fun. Your kid will get bored with it after a while, and then you need to be ready to offer alternatives.

about 10 months ago
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Are the NIST Standard Elliptic Curves Back-doored?

kwikrick Re:Not paranoid *enough* ? (366 comments)

Hmmm, perhaps it sufficient to just find a class of inputs that generates a particular class of hashes. Then pick a random input in that class
and use it as an elliptic curve parameter. I don't know if that's sufficient to generate weak elliptic curves. But if so, then the NSA doesn't need to have solved SHA1.

about a year ago
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Schneier: The US Government Has Betrayed the Internet, We Need To Take It Back

kwikrick Re:Spot On (397 comments)

And don't forget: who's going to pay for it?

about a year ago
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Linux 3.11-rc7 Release Celebrates 22 Years of Linux

kwikrick Re:Is it ready for the desktop ? (151 comments)

So, pick up the ball and maintain it yourself. Or, help improve other video editors out there. Or maybe you aren't ready for the Linux desktop?

about a year ago
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The Secret Effort To Clean Up a Former Soviet Nuclear Test Site

kwikrick Re:The solution to pollution is dilution (74 comments)

plutonium is not only highly radioactive, it's also extremely poisenous. You don't want this stuff in the air or in the ground water. It tends to accumulate in your bones. You'll have to spread it really very very thin to make it mostly harmless.

about a year ago
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Did Goldman Sachs Overstep in Criminally Charging Its Ex-Programmer?

kwikrick great article (186 comments)

read TFA (realy!), makes me so angry! many lessons to be learned from it, but respect for the law ain't one of them.

about a year ago
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NSA Backdoors In Open Source and Open Standards: What Are the Odds?

kwikrick Re:This is stupid (407 comments)

Fearmongering, yes.
But not impossible.
It's not so easy to make sure that a program is a correct implementation of a mathematical algorithm or of an open standard.
A subtle bug (purposeful or not) in a crypographic algorithm or protocol can be exploited.
Writing a bug is much easier than spotting it.
Many applications and OSes get security updates almost dayly. They certainly haven't found them all yet.
Perhaps the NSA has engineered backdoors in our free software at some point, but those vunerabilities have been patched already.
Mosty paranoia then....
Rick

1 year,26 days
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Why You Should Worry About the Future of Chromebooks

kwikrick Re:Look what happened to Netbooks (216 comments)

I looked into Chromebooks, but installing Linux on them is surprisingly not so straightforward, because these machines have a locked down bios. You can install and run linux, but every time you boot, you need to manually interrupt the boot process and give permission to run Linux. That held me back from buying one. With a normal (UEFI) bios, you can use various linux bootloaders and have a normal boot process.

about a year ago
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Why You Should Worry About the Future of Chromebooks

kwikrick Re:Look what happened to Netbooks (216 comments)

RIght. You can still get small laptops (10-13 inch) sold as netbooks for around 300 dollars (or 300 euros in europe), but you don't get the value for money that you used to get a couple of years ago. All the cheap netbooks now come with harddrives, because even a much smaller SSD is more expensive. So that reduces battery life. Of course, you now get Windows 8 with it. What a laugh! So you install a linux distro on it, struggle a bit with UEFI and hardware drivers, etc.

Bottom line: netbooks are still around, but have become more expensive, less functional (windows 8) and require more work (install linux).

 

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best 3-D Design Software?

kwikrick solids or surfaces? (218 comments)

I'm not sure what the requirements are for models to be 3D printed. I can imagine you need a solid model to make a print, but the software that comes with the printer can probably convert a surface model into a solid model. Most objects you'll print wont be very solid anyway, but rather thin-walled hollow objects.

I'm guessing a surface modeller like Rino, Blender or Wings3d are the best option, since these a cheaper than solid modelling software and more suitable for creative design.

Solid modellers like Solidworks, Catia and Proengineer are used in industry, and may give you more control over the solidity of your model (like where supports should go and how thick these must be). For the extra money you'll get many extra features that you'll never use.

Rick

about a year ago
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Game Site Wonders 'What Next?' When 50% of Users Block Ads

kwikrick don' tell (978 comments)

the advertisers we use ad-blockers! Aw, now you've ruined it for all of us.

about a year ago
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LG Acquires WebOS Source Code and Patents From HP

kwikrick apache licence (80 comments)

Open webOS is released under Apache License Version 2.0 (http://apache.org/licenses/)

The Apache licence grants you the right to make and distribute copies, but does not require you to distribute the source code with a binary distribution.
So LG can fork the code and that code will probably not be made available, only the binaries. They own the forked code completely. It will live a separate life from Open webOS.

Also, the licence says:

"If You institute patent litigation against any entity( ...) alleging that the Work( ...) constitutes direct or contributory patent infringement, then any patent licenses granted to You under this License for that Work shall terminate as of the date such litigation is filed."

So if LG uses the patents used in webUS against anyone, say Apple, then LG loses the right to use those patents? So LG can't use those patents? That's what is seems to say, but maybe I don't get legal speak.

Rick

about a year and a half ago
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Tiny Pill Relays Body Temperature of Firefighters In Real-time

kwikrick Neil Stepehson's Anathem (SPOILER ALERT) (67 comments)

In Neil Stephenson's novel Anathem, the main characters take a pill that supposedly monitors their temperature, turns out to be a small, remote triggered, neutron bomb.

I might hesitate to take such a pill. You never know what else it does....

Rick.

about a year and a half ago
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NASA Discovers Most Distant Galaxy In Known Universe

kwikrick Re:I don't get it (105 comments)

how fast we need to be hurtling away from this galaxy for us to see the relative past now

Earth is only 4.5 billion years old, so the question is a bit silly. But the universe 13.3 billion years ago (420 million years old) was already quite big, or it could not have been forming galaxies. (I don't have numbers, but the exponential inflationary period was definitely much earlier. After that growth glowed down for a couple of billion years, and now it's speeding up again because of dark matter ).

More about measuring distance on space-time here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_expansion_of_space

about a year and a half ago
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Why Coding At Fifty May Be Nifty

kwikrick Re:That NOT what I said. (317 comments)

OK, granted, I misread you on purpose, go for the easy mod points.

Still, do you really think talking to your computer, or drawing pictures for it, is going to make programming easier or more fun or less work? I very strongly doubt that. When programming becomes repetitive, you should find some way to automate that part; code it differently, develop a tool or invent a new language. And ultimately, it would be great if some AI would just write programs for our problems. Before that, there will be some typing. But not too much if you do it right.

about a year and a half ago

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slashdot sid

kwikrick kwikrick writes  |  about 10 months ago

I clicked a random link (randomwebsite.com) and read that you could create your own slashdot discussion by typing the URL:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=XXX
where XXX is whatever you want the topic to be

This doesn't work anymore. It now tells you there is no such story and you can either make a journal entry, or submit a story. Obviously the website was a bit old.

So, I made a random journal entry. Do I win a price now?

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