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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Strangest Features of Various Programming Languages?

psmears Re:Powershell (729 comments)

The compiler replaces it with a fixed constant which indicates how many bytes are needed to store the argument (which is either a symbol or another constant)

No, it can be any expression or any type. Doesn't have to be a symbol, and doesn't have to be constant.

about two weeks ago
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You Got Your Windows In My Linux

psmears Re: What's wrong with Windows Server? (613 comments)

yes, it's called FreeBSD, or any of the BSDs. Top notch documentation, and sane userland.

... and is a suitable replacement for every piece of software ever? Wow!

about three weeks ago
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You Got Your Windows In My Linux

psmears Re: What's wrong with Windows Server? (613 comments)

If something isn't documented properly, and doesn't work the way I expect... I'm not going to dig into the source code and try to decipher it... I'm going to RUN SOMETHING ELSE.

I wish I lived in your world where there was always an alternative that's well-documented and sane... in fact, I'd settle for well-documented OR sane ;-)

about three weeks ago
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Research Shows RISC vs. CISC Doesn't Matter

psmears Re:It's a question that WAS relevant (161 comments)

I can see how Java being in a VM to begin with presents a similar model to running assembly on the actual machine but comparing the two in terms of efficiency and overhead is laughable. I was signalling my cognitive dissonance of conflating Java and assembly so directly.

You are aware that there are CPUs capable of executing Java bytecode directly? I.e. that use Java bytecode as (one of) their native assembly instruction set(s)?

about three weeks ago
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Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

psmears Re:from the PoV of someone who has actually studie (455 comments)

In England, we now have Police Commissioners, who are themselves serving police officers.

I assume you're talking about Police and Crime commissioners, in which case no, they're not serving police officers, and indeed police officers are barred from holding that office.

about three weeks ago
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Is "Scorpion" Really a Genius?

psmears Re:He claims this himself (391 comments)

His 2:1 is also not from Sussex University as he claimed (which is a reasonably reputable establishment) but from the University of brighton according to his own source.

You're right, the article does say that, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was the (non-UK) newspaper that mixed up"University of Sussex at Brighton" and "University of Brighton"...

about a month ago
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What Do You Do When Your Mind-Numbing IT Job Should Be Automated?

psmears Re:Automate them (228 comments)

If your design documentation couldn't be directly executed by the computer and tested, then we cannot say that it was even remotely complete or correct.

That's not true - it's perfectly possible to give a specification that's complete and comprehensive, and yet is not executable by a computer.

For instance, you could specify a "sort" function by saying that (1) it must return a list that contains a rearrangement of the items passed in, (2) that list must be in ascending order, (3) the time taken must be less than K*n*log(n), where n is the number of items passed in.

I've given that specification in English for brevity, but you could equally specify it in a more formal way - and indeed in one that the computer could verify for any instance of the problem that you put in. (Some might call this "specifcation by unit test".) But the computer could not, in general, go from the specification to an implementation completely automatically.

about a month and a half ago
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Exploiting Wildcards On Linux/Unix

psmears Re:If only this was a Microsoft issue. (215 comments)

With zsh you can type: do_some_stuff /my/files/**/*

... provided that the number of files fits into the command line argument space (a common reason for using find/xargs rather than, say, wildcards/backticks, aside from the security issues).

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Rapid Development Language To Learn Today?

psmears Re:What's wrong with html and javascript? (466 comments)

Have you ever used perl?

As it happens I've been using perl for longer than your 17 years of JavaScript, so I'm well aware of how its references work... but nothing about that changes the fact that your assertion about JavaScript's "==" comparing values is wrong; in fact, it would be truer to say that "===" compares values.

b = {}; doesn't modify b, it re-assigns b. Please learn how variables work.

I know how variables work, thanks ;-). Assignment is how you change a variable's value in imperative languages. You can't just arbitrarily assert that words like "change" and "modify" have different meanings from their standard ones..

And if you think that "1" and true are different values, then you don't understand what a "value" is.

I've got a very good idea what a "value" is. One property of values (in the context of computing) is that, if two things have different effects when passed to the same function, then they're different values. Perhaps you have a different definition of "value" that contradicts this? If so, do enlighten us, and can you provide a link to a credible source to back up your definition? Again - you can't just arbitrarily assert that words have different meanings from their standard ones.

You're either really old, used to bit-registers not complex objects, or you're really young reading text books, or you've navigated the industry by avoiding business-level programming.

Haha... actually none of the above are true. And even if they were - your assertion about "==" would still be wrong, so your comment to angel'o'sphere to "try harder" would still be uncalled for.

Wow, you are incredibly confused.

I agree that one of us is, indeed, quite confused :-)

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Rapid Development Language To Learn Today?

psmears Re:What's wrong with html and javascript? (466 comments)

You might also try a='1', a=1, a=01, a='01', a=0, a='0', a=false, a='', and a=null.

Using a simple scalar integer isn't an example of anything.

Yes it is - it's an example of your explanation being wrong. Here are some more. You claimed:

Double tests to see if two variables have the same value.

However,

a = "1";
b = true;
result = (a == b);

... gives a result of true - when clearly "1" and true are different values - for instance, you'll get different results if you pass them to alert(). You also said:

Triple tests to see if two variables point to the same place in memory -- are actually the same variables.

"Pointing to the same place in memory" and "actually being the same variable" are two entirely different concepts. For example, after:

a = {foo: 1, bar: [1,2,3]};
b = a;

then 'a' and 'b' refer to the same object ("point to the same place in memory", if you like), and a===b will return true. But they're still different variables, because after modifying one of the variables

b = {};

the other variable will not be affected in any way.

The reason for wanting to use triple-equals is not because "double-equals compares values", it's because double-equals sometimes behaves in a way that's confusing and not very useful. For instance, I'd expect, for any sensible equality operator, that if a==b and b==c, then a==c... but for JavaScript's double-equals, that's not true (put a="", b=[], c="0" - then ""==[], and []=="0", but "" != "0"...)

about 3 months ago
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A Look at Smart Gun Technology

psmears Re:Cops Won't Carry 'Em, Neither Will I (765 comments)

Hyperbole never fixes anything.

"Punishment" implies that someone did something wrong, which is not necessarily true of all gunshot victims. Like the unarmed homeless guy my local PD shot in the back last week.

Unless, of course, we consider being homeless as a punishable offense.

Haha, I'm using hyperbole?

Yes, for obvious reasons which I already pointed out - not every gunshot victim was shot out of punishment. Yes, it's a pedantic difference, but so was your completely unnecessary addition about gunshot victims, so fair's fair.

Wasn't it equally hyperbole when you talked about the "population as a whole" being punished

No, because that's exactly what laws that would remove everyone's civil liberties based on what a few people might do are for - punishing everyone for the (potential) actions of a few. It's not hyperbolic if it's not an exaggeration. For the record, your statement wouldn't have been hyperbolic if you'd have qualified it with something like, "... and some of those who get shot by them." Again, it's a pedantic difference, but pedantry is what got us to this point in the conversation.

Tthat logic makes no sense. As you say, most people haven't done anything wrong. You say that bad treatment can't be punishment if the person undergoing it didn't do anything wrong. Therefore intrusive gun control is, by your own reasoning, not punishment for those people, and your statement is hyperbole if mine is. You can't have it both ways.

The point is that, to make a balanced comparison, you have to consider the positive and negative effects experienced by everyone in society. If (and, of course, it is very much an "if") the negative effects on the population as a whole of (insert proposed freedom-reducing gun control measure here) are less than the positive effects that come from people not getting shot as a result, that's a strong argument that that measure should be implemented; if that's not the case (because the measure is so draconian that its negative effects are large, and/or the measure is not effective, or actually counterproductive, in reducing gun crime injuries), then the measure should clearly not be implemented.

Maybe I'm missing something,

Yes... you are. I'm explaining why it's important to consider the negative impact of gun crime as well as the negative impact of gun control measures, in order to be come to a balanced conclusion on whether any given gun control regime, or absence thereof, should be implemented. Do you disagree with that?

Balancing these factors is hard to do in any scientific way - not least because the value of "freedom" versus the value of not being shot is very hard to pin down quantitavely - but neglecting the harm done by gun crime is bound to unbalance the equation.

Again, how does this apply to the conversation at hand?

Because what you appear to be saying is that one should ignore the victims of gun crime when considering what the law should be. (That may not, in fact, be your position, but it's what your words are suggesting.)

about 4 months ago
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A Look at Smart Gun Technology

psmears Re:Cops Won't Carry 'Em, Neither Will I (765 comments)

Hyperbole never fixes anything.

"Punishment" implies that someone did something wrong, which is not necessarily true of all gunshot victims. Like the unarmed homeless guy my local PD shot in the back last week.

Unless, of course, we consider being homeless as a punishable offense.

Haha, I'm using hyperbole? Wasn't it equally hyperbole when you talked about the "population as a whole" being punished - or do you consider being part of the population a punishable offence? ;-)

The point is that, to make a balanced comparison, you have to consider the positive and negative effects experienced by everyone in society. If (and, of course, it is very much an "if") the negative effects on the population as a whole of (insert proposed freedom-reducing gun control measure here) are less than the positive effects that come from people not getting shot as a result, that's a strong argument that that measure should be implemented; if that's not the case (because the measure is so draconian that its negative effects are large, and/or the measure is not effective, or actually counterproductive, in reducing gun crime injuries), then the measure should clearly not be implemented.

Balancing these factors is hard to do in any scientific way - not least because the value of "freedom" versus the value of not being shot is very hard to pin down quantitavely - but neglecting the harm done by gun crime is bound to unbalance the equation.

about 4 months ago
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A Look at Smart Gun Technology

psmears Re:Cops Won't Carry 'Em, Neither Will I (765 comments)

Thus freedom is preserved, and only those who are actually guilty of harming others, and those who get shot by them, are punished, rather than the population as a whole.

FTFY...

about 4 months ago
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"Smart" Gun Seller Gets the Wrong Kind of Online Attention

psmears Re:I must live in a different country... (1374 comments)

Home invasions are rare because of the 2nd Amendment. Look up the "hot burglary" (burglaries when people are in the structure) numbers for the United Kingdom sometime.

I haven't been able to find good stats on that, but what I can find suggests that the burglary rate overall is broadly similar - at most 20% higher in the UK. But even assuming the UK rate is five times the US one, it's worth noting that the gun murder rate is over thirty times higher in the US than in England&Wales. To me at least, that doesn't sound like a great tradeoff :-/

about 5 months ago
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404-No-More Project Seeks To Rid the Web of '404 Not Found' Pages

psmears Re:There aren't many 404s (72 comments)

There aren't many 404s left anyway. Domain dealers are quick to put their hands on every dead link. Which is a shame, because a 404 would be more informative.

You don't get a 404 for a non-existent domain. You only get a 404 if you try to go to a non-existent page within a domain that's registered and has a web server running. If the domain's not registered, there's no web server to even return a 404.

about 4 months ago
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GNU C Library Alternative Musl Libc Hits 1.0 Milestone

psmears Re:Missing the only useful comparison. (134 comments)

The compare page is missing the only other entry I wanted to see.... and that is, BSD libc. This is widely used by QNX

No, QNX has its own libc - the microkernel architecture means the system call interactions work substantially differently from traditional Unix/Linux/etc.

about 6 months ago
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Internet Shutdown Adds To Venezuela's Woes

psmears Re:Follow the money (194 comments)

The Venezuelan regime treats every problem as a nail to be hammered, so it THINKS the Internet shutdown will help them.

I was in Egypt when the government shut down the internet for several days to prevent protests, prior to the ousting of Mubarak. It was a very short-sighted move: to a great extent, the only thing keeping a lot of people off the streets was Facebook - take that away, and people's only option (for information and/or entertainment) is to go outside...

about 7 months ago
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A Mathematical Proof Too Long To Check

psmears Re:prove that the program works (189 comments)

Forgot to mention those guys showed that such an algorithm that "works" for all valid proofs is not just difficult but mathematically impossible.

No, that's not actually what they proved; it is perfectly possible to prove a given algorithm works for all possible inputs, and even that a proof checker works for all valid proofs. There are certainly things that they proved impossible (e.g. a writing a program that can provide a proof for any true mathematical statement, or that can determine if two arbitrary programs are equivalent), but those don't apply here.

about 7 months ago

Submissions

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UK DNA database ruled a 'breach of rights'

psmears psmears writes  |  more than 5 years ago

psmears writes "Describing a judgment that is likely rein in the scope of the UK DNA database, where at present the DNA of those arrested by the police is kept permanently (even if the people concerned are never convicted, or even charged), the BBC reports that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that keeping such people's DNA in the database 'could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society'."
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