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What Will Microsoft's "Embrace" of Open Source Actually Achieve?

ndykman Because it works... (215 comments)

It's not hard. They want .Net to gain more traction as a development platform. There's enough people that are contributing to things like ASP .Net MVC and Entity Framework to make it useful for them. Also, there were open source projects that have helped them a ton (NuGet) and they realize that it works for them in some cases. Also, I think they sense that there is an opportunity for .Net to become the "goto" enterprise development platform. Oracle's handling of Java is creating a space for a new player to come along. Oh, and all that .Net stuff will run great on Azure.

Azure is the big thing internally, and they know they have to run open source platforms on it. There is a shift in the Enterprise group to get away from a "captive" market to just trying to compete on features and to make a compelling platform, which Windows Server, .Net, etc. really is becoming.

Now, there's some things that just don't make sense to do. Open source Office makes little sense, as I doubt there'd be any real interest in contributing to that code base. Same with Windows. So, of course, it's a self-serving, pragmatic approach versus an ideological change on how software should be created and supported.

3 days ago
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Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End

ndykman It is an end of a era... (155 comments)

Can't think of any one source that had the breadth and depth of Dr. Dobb's. Always look forward to when it came in the mail back in the day, because I knew that I'd always would learn something.

Seriously, I hope they can find funding or start a project to ensure their archive exists and is available to all. It'd be a unique contribution to computing history.

4 days ago
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James Watson's Nobel Prize Goes On Auction This Week

ndykman Re:Is it true... (355 comments)

It's funny, but the very source you point to notes that the best explanation of those gaps are factors like poverty and environment. Surprise, people that are hungry, suffering from disease and have no access to modern education tend to do worse on standardized tests of intelligence. There's plenty of research in the area, but it all revolves around environmental factors. From a genetic standpoint, the variances in "races" is so small that it's impact on something as complex as a intelligence as Spearman's g is just noise. Also, there is a much better explanation of the gap in performance between races. Stereotype threat. It can be reproduced in any population, and study show that it can account for all the gap in performance in standardized tests. It's simple to do. Create a reminder that a group is expected to do worse on a test, and they will do worse because their are trying to compensate. The book Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To is a great summary of the work in this area.

about three weeks ago
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How the FCC CIO Plans To Modernize 207 Legacy IT Systems

ndykman Oh, look at me, I'm such a great manager... (74 comments)

I can apply buzzwords and promote synergies by empowering individuals to maximize their unique contributions. My team even volunteered overtime during the holiday season, because they were so positive about our project. It wasn't because they were afraid they would be pushed out of their jobs by a CIO whose eager to ship everything he can out of house.

I guess he did okay at the CDC and hey, if it saves money, great, but who cares. Just do your job already. I'm sure the pay scale isn't that bad and the benefits are pretty awesome.

about three weeks ago
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NSF Commits $16M To Build Cloud-Based and Data-Intensive Supercomputers

ndykman Re:the skeptic is ... who? (29 comments)

When compared to the broad consensus of science, yes. Belief doesn't enter into it, the research is done. Global warming is an established fact. And not just by one paper, but by repeated, peer reviewed research. Even early skeptics in climate modeling have come to the same conclusions.

I hesitate to call him or others skeptical, as it suggests there is really any room for doubt. There really isn't. The core findings about global warming are established. Covering our ears and shouting "it's not true" won't change a thing.

about three weeks ago
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Congress Suggests Moat, Electronic Fence To Protect White House

ndykman Eletronic? (213 comments)

Seriously, a news for nerds site can't get the word electronic correct in a article headline? Amazing editing going on there, Slashdot.

about a month ago
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Jolla Crowdfunds Its First Tablet

ndykman It's all about the processor. (56 comments)

The current state of x86_64 at Intel means that there is no reason to create a 32 bit only processor, it'd be a huge amount of architectural rework with little benefit.

Now, just because it's 64 bit capable doesn't mean that the OS will be 64 bit. In fact, given the low memory, that might be an option. This is all about SoC cost and low margins. That means each bump in memory really adds up. This isn't the same as just putting a more dense DIMM in a motherboard.

Also, given the target usage, one would have to argue why you would need more than 2G of ram. Seriously, I get away with it on a Windows 8.1 tablet for basic Office, etc. No reason Sailfish won't do even better.

about a month ago
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Microsoft To Open Source .NET and Take It Cross-Platform

ndykman A Great Step Forward... (525 comments)

Of course, I saw all the expected arguments, and a lot of "but, Microsoft is the exact same company from 20 years ago, so this must be wrong, evil, etc." Well, companies change. Skepticism is good, but evaluating things as they are is good too.

The .Net ecosystem is a good environment to program in. They have great languages and frameworks. The Python Tools in VS are actually quite nice (they work fine with CPython). It is disappointing that the IronLanguages project has died off, but maybe this will spark some new interest.

And one of the main drawbacks to the platform in terms of target platforms is starting to be addressed in a real way.

It's a pragmatic decision. Microsoft has already benefited from open source projects (ASP .Net MVC, Entity Framework), and this is just an expansion of this. The hardest part will be getting resources to get people to really bang on it on other platforms.

I bet that internally at Microsoft, lots of people are happy about this, as they really do think they did great work and this gives them greater visibility.

about a month ago
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Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech

ndykman Re:Remember: Cultural, not racial (459 comments)

I think the sources for "some populations on average are smarter than others" are needed. Same with the "superior social ability". I've seen nothing that suggests that either are true and that they can be attributed to a genetic difference and not to social or environment confounders. The consensus is that it's not worth studying. The genomic data shows that any influence or different in complex behaviors would be just noise and impossible to measure in the face of strong confounders. The point is that these perceived "differences" between races (a term that many argue has no scientific basis) are in fact incredibly small genetic despite their outward appearance.

about a month ago
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Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech

ndykman Re:Remember: Cultural, not racial (459 comments)

The reason it's not correct to state that different genetic sub-groups might have different intelligence levels is that there is no evidence that there is any significant difference between any population or group overall genetically.

You mention anthropology. Yes, there is an interest in studying how our population grew and spread over the planet. To do this, they do sophisticated analysis to detect certain changes to try and model how the population moved.

Here's the problem, you've assumed that these grouping are significant outside population migration. They aren't. If you take the genome as a whole, these variations are nothing compared to individual variation.

It's not culture that has caused the problem not to be looked into. It has been, significantly, and some people in our culture refuse to accept the results. That our perception of race and racial differences are completely environmental, and there is no basis whatsoever in science to say that one population is smarter than the other.

Again, this is a lot of posturing to try and ignore that as a society, we systemically have placed a certain set of people at a large disadvantage for no reason than our fears. We only talk about black culture because our history caused us to set apart a population first as property, then as second-class citizens, and then as "different' when convenient to explain why a group is poor or lazy or ambitious or whatever bucket we try to force people into.

Here's the point. Every time genetic differences comes up, it's "Are blacks less intelligent?" "Are Asians better in school?" "Are Latinos less motivated" and so on. All these are dumb questions. But, never, never have I seen: "Are whites more prone to discriminate against other groups?" It's still a dumb question, but it doesn't come up, does it.

about a month ago
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New Book Argues Automation Is Making Software Developers Less Capable

ndykman Better tools isn't the problem... (212 comments)

The summary seems a bit misleading. The main thrust of page I saw what that the push to replace work with automation can have consequences at a certain level. Does decision making really work well in automation, or does it lead to problems? There's evidence in both camps. An example, some traders on Wall Street have complained about removing people from the process, they that really do add value at times. And sure, it's hard to imagine a human would issue a massive amount of bad orders, but a computer model with a bit of glitch might. But, is that enough to slow things down. Just one example of many.

In my mind, critical thinking does have value, and no, there is nothing in data science, machine learning, etc. that really comes even close to what humans can do in that area. There's a big debate in Medicine about following best practices and if just following algorithms would work better. Some note it would reduce unneeded tests and procedures. Others have noted that actually, doctors are much better at noting when something is going really wrong and that following a script could lead to unnecessary deaths that would be avoided by relying on clinical judgment. Is there is a need for better data? Sure, but can you really automate judgment? And what real value is there of taking the craft out of everything for humanity as a whole?

The problem is that some people don't think software engineering, programming, coding, whatever requires critical thinking, or that there is a craft or art to programming. And you can increasingly do it that way. Cut and paste, copy from the web, and when things don't work out, post on the web and hope somebody answers.

What is lost is somebody has to have the skills to figure out what is going wrong or that it can be done better. Where do those answers come from on the web after all? At some point, somebody has to know how to actually approach the problem from the fundamentals and solve it, and that's when all those things that we (okay, at least me and my schoolmates) studied in CS come into play.

I'm on a project and they are just throwing idea after idea to figure out a performance problem. Sure, it's tricky, but I realize, they have a huge blind spot. They don't know how to attach a low-level debugger to a process, to monitor OS resources, or even realize that you can debug something without sources. Sure, it's a Java enterprise application, so that's another layer of hard, but it can be done. Cripes, we had to debug core dumps. I'm glad (thrilled) that I don't have to do it anymore, but the skills that I learned doing it were invaluable.

A related aside. The problem is not better tools, it is not knowing there are better (or any) tools or that you can make better tools.

about a month ago
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Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches

ndykman Re:Restating the obvious... (388 comments)

Ballot stuffing is actually pretty easy to protect against, and the method of voting doesn't do anything to change that equation. It's just as easy to telegraph votes on a voting machine versus paper. Also, voter fraud is really risky compared to the payoff. It's easy to get caught. It just takes one election judge to unravel a scheme to defraud. And it's much easier and less risky to disenfranchise voters to effect an outcome; history shows us that.

As to why the counts are off, in most cases, it's confusion over eligibility, not intentional fraud.

about a month and a half ago
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Silicon Valley Swings To Republicans

ndykman Re:This is great news! (485 comments)

Oddly, given that it is Congressional gridlock, one would think to naturally look to Congress for a solution. But, this assumes that gridlock is viewed to be a problem.

about a month and a half ago
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Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches

ndykman Restating the obvious... (388 comments)

Marked paper ballots. Done. Braille versions can be made for the blind, different language versions (what, voting based on a person's preferred language, that's just crazy) and so on. Optical scanning is old, tried and very well tested technology, and you can always fall back to hand counts.

about a month and a half ago
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Colleges Face New 'Gainful Employment' Regulations For Student Loans

ndykman Misses the real problem... (331 comments)

I do have a problem with a lot of the for-profit schools this measure is attacking, but for different reasons. Because it is way overpriced vocational training, not an education.

As expected, the attacking the "college is stupid, why would anybody get a degree in {liberal arts field}, because you can't get a job with it" line thought was well represented. Congratulations, you'd just brought into the mindset that the economic and power elite wants; that nothing is valuable without dollar signs attached to it.

Yes, think that higher education isn't a public good (hint, that why there are state schools, and they were subsidized for a long time with tax dollars), but instead treat it as job training that employees, not employers have to pay for. Reduce and eliminate anything that require critical thinking or actual unique thought, because that's a luxury for the rich. I mean, we can't have tax dollars and contributions going to a bunch of intellectuals that aren't smart enough to teach at a "real university". That's a waste.

And forget college preparation in high school, because who needs to be able to write a original essay or be critical of, well, anything. Just funnel everybody in a public school into a job. If you aren't wealthy, you don't deserve to have ideas, you just deserve to work mindlessly. No pursuing higher ideas for you. I mean, those classes were so annoying. Having to process new ideas, having to study things that don't interest you, having to do things you don't like or want to do? What's the point in that? Being exposed to diversity? Pfft.

This story doesn't end well. Usually, it's violent and a lot of people die. If you are lucky, it's more peaceful, but still really bad for business. But, the reduction in real tax rates for the truly wealthy can't be stopped. Increasing taxes to restore revenues to schools and education? Insisting that corporations and those that profit from them have to contribute a better society? That's insane big government talk.

Hell, just send them to a code boot camp. Those are great jobs. If want to learn stuff, just go on the internet, because, all that stuff on the internet that is useful just came out of nowhere, right? The fact that PhDs are on food stamps and can't find jobs is a canary screeching in a coal mine. Damn straight college administration needs to answer for this, but we all have to answer; we need to value real education in this country.

about 1 month ago
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HP Unveils Industrial 3D Printer 10X Faster, 50% Cheaper Than Current Systems

ndykman A good sign. (111 comments)

It's a sign that years and years of mismanagement maybe didn't completely kill the ability for them to come up with interesting stuff This is exactly the kind of thing they need to do. Shore up HP Labs and solve some neat problems and ship cool stuff. Sure, let's be skeptical, but good for them for trying.

about 2 months ago
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Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

ndykman Just as long you come to the desired result... (553 comments)

Sure, employers want critical thinkers, just as long as they come to the wanted conclusions. If you don't, err, not so much.

I'm dealing with an attempt to move software engineers off of dedicated workstations into a VDI environment. And the way they did it was the stupidest way possible. But will management listen? No. A few conversations with the software engineers at the start would have saved a ton of waste. But management doesn't want anything but validation and blames us for being unreasonable about we what we need to do our own jobs.

So, trying to find another contract next year somewhere else. Thank goodness I'm not full time. But, I'm odd, I don't want to waste time waiting for my computer to unfreeze, even if I can bill it.

This is just a ploy to shift blame on toxic work environments driven by greed and short-sightedness from companies and major stockholders on the public. Here's a hint, if you actually listen and act on suggestions, your workers will probably start thinking critically again.

about 2 months ago
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The Subtle Developer Exodus From the Mac App Store

ndykman Just how Apple wants it... (229 comments)

What's the incentive for Apple not to control every aspect of their user's experience, including the software they install?

They have a captive user base that insist that Apple can do no wrong, so why not get a cut for every paid piece of software installed on OS X? It works for iOS. I half expect to see a developer unlock for OS X, so that by default, you can't install anything on OSX that isn't from the App Store.

Adobe, Microsoft and the other big players will get on board. Because, being able to install your own software on your own machine is a security risk, and we can't have that. Instead, trust Apple to verify everything for you. That's the world we live in.

about 2 months ago
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Back To Faxes: Doctors Can't Exchange Digital Medical Records

ndykman A Self Imposed Mess... (240 comments)

My experience in studying Medical Informatics is that they had no idea on how to create an ecosystem. Firstly, they were wrongly insistent on the need for everything to be coded. Take a look at things like SNOMED and LONIC as an example.

HL7 is a completely over engineered mess and it's a standards process driven by too many doctors and other health professionals and way too few computer scientists. It tries to capture the process of health care as a protocol. Completely wrongheaded. By the way, I worked on the UML 2.0 standard committee, which I think is reasonable by comparison to HL7, which is a major user of UML. Let that sink in.

HIPAA also has completely outdated and overly complex requirements as well. It was well intended, but it needs replacement. The law standardized technology, not requirements and that's a mistake.

Epic is a total mess. A local hospital system in my state adopted it and (surprise), it was horribly over-budget and there are still issues. And it's legacy code out of the box. It's all based on MUMPS and bits and pieces hacked on top of it.

Overall, the main problem is insisting that the problem be solved all at once, versus step by step. Step one, establish a system for identification for health providers and patients. This includes a system to get a identity of a patient via known data while providing a high level of confidence that the requestor of information is a health provider. Solve this, and then you can start talking about interchange. And start simple. Forget highly coded documents. Exchange vital history, procedure history, problem list and notes. That's it. Then move forward based on actual user demands.

Frankly, Clinton had the right idea with the national health id. If we could create an ID that everybody had that was only used for medical identification, that'd be great. But I doubt that'll happen, so we will be stuck with a huge data deduplication problem.

It's not easy, but it's more doable than people think. And heck, open source as a means of standardization is a fine part of this equation that is completely ignored.

about 3 months ago
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HP Introduces Sub-$100 Windows Tablet

ndykman Re:That's a reasonable price point... (182 comments)

A fair point. I was thinking the Android price point was more around 69-79. Clearly I haven't been shopping extensively.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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Real Reason Behind Windows 10 Name: Compatibility

ndykman ndykman writes  |  about 3 months ago

ndykman (659315) writes "The Independent reports that a MS developer has suggested a real reason behind the new name for the Windows 10 name. Old code. More specifically code that looks for "Windows 9" to determine the windows version. Fine for Windows 95 or Windows 98, but not so great for a new operating system. The article includes a link that shows that yes, this would be a problem."
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HP and Oracle Lawsuit Ruling: Oracle must Support Itanium

ndykman ndykman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ndykman (659315) writes "The case of HP versus Oracle over Oracle's refusal to support the Itanium in its products is over, and the court has ruled that Oracle must support the Itanium, despite Oracle's claims that the Itanium is a dead architecture that was nearing the end of its life.

While this was about the HP support contract with Oracle, it will be interesting to see if this will have a positive impact on HP's top end server business."

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