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Comments

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California Man Sues Sony Because Killzone: Shadowfall Isn't Really 1080p

raddan Re:You go girl (286 comments)

Or, you know, you could just measure the viewable area. No research required.

about 3 months ago
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New Microsoft CEO Vows To Shake Up Corporate Culture

raddan Re:Manager (204 comments)

You're forgetting that mobile devices need a complement to be useful: mobile services. Many of the services that we know and love-- and the many more coming down the pipeline-- all need massive amounts of computation. And the trend right now is toward more and more computation. For example, Skype (not exactly a failure) requires massive cloud resources, and the forthcoming Skype Translator will require a neural net behind the scenes.

I don't think your feelings about Windows Server contradict my point: Microsoft is moving into a software-as-a-service model. It shouldn't be surprising that you want to ditch the old model. In many ways, it doesn't matter if you don't use Microsoft handheld devices; if you do things on the Internet, you almost certainly use their cloud services. And if anything can be learned from Apple's example, it's that rapid innovation can happen when you have the capability to vertically integrate. There are really only three players out there right now that can do that: Apple, Google, and Microsoft. I think it would be silly to call any one of those companies irrelevant.

about 3 months ago
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New Microsoft CEO Vows To Shake Up Corporate Culture

raddan Re:Manager (204 comments)

(disclaimer: I have interned at Microsoft for the past three summers; I do not speak for them)

I think your criticism against lock-in is fair, and this is clearly one of Microsoft's strategies, and I suspect that it will continue to be to some degree. But on the language front, you are wrong. Not only are Microsoft's newest languages open-source (F#, TypeScript), but they are also cross-platform and collaboratively developed with open source groups. And, of course, you can run all .NET languages on the Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, etc. with mono.

While it is theoretically possible that all of this is a deadly Microsoft-bait-and-switch just waiting to happen, having worked at Microsoft, I can say that doing so would fly in the face of a lot of hard work by many, many people there. I was as critical about Microsoft as you were (dig into my /. history and you'll see) until I worked there. Not only is it a great place to work, but the company really is committed to changing its culture. Use of open-source tools at Microsoft used to be strictly-prohibited. Now they have a fast-track process for working with them. Open-sourcing of Microsoft software was also a complete non-starter. Now putting Microsoft code up on the web is increasingly routine, and they even have their own open-source hosting ala GitHub that has git bindings.

Microsoft is a big company (the Redmond campus is mind-bogglingly huge to me) and they have a lot of corporate momentum. Despite this, in my opinion, I've seen my daily interactions with people do a complete 180 in the last couple of years. Microsoft knows that the era of selling boxed copies of proprietary software is coming to an end. So you're simply wrong about Microsoft not being able to change.

about 3 months ago
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Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

raddan Re:another language shoved down your throat (415 comments)

Oh, right, I thought that JavaScript sucked because I was under the impression that it was dynamically typed, allowed monkey-patching, had a lame set of numeric types, poor support for sequential I/O, etc., etc., etc. Oh, wait... those things are true? But Douglas Crockford says it's Lisp-y, so that gives us license to sweep all those problems under the rug.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Correlation Between Text Editor and Programming Language?

raddan Re:C# and VS are obviously linked (359 comments)

If you're doing Javascript in Visual Studio, then you have no excuse not to check out TypeScript. Likewise, in IDEA, you should check out Scala.js. It's surprisingly mature for something that just got off the ground. Javascript needs to die.

about 4 months ago
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Google Starts Removing Search Results After EU Ruling

raddan Precision, recall, adversarial threats? (138 comments)

My concern is how Google handles removing things accurately. This isn't the white pages-- there isn't some person assembling these indices. They've generated by learning algorithms, and those algorithms themselves misclassify information. So how do you get all of your references removed without inflicting collateral damage? What about people with the same name? Furthermore, how does Google know that requests are legitimate? You can imagine political candidates requesting that Google remove their opponents.

Whatever algorithm Google is using to do this, I think its details are in the public interest. I'd like to see them publish its details.

about 4 months ago
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State Colleges May Offer Best ROI On Comp Sci Degrees

raddan Re:Calculation was flawed (127 comments)

Not to mention: many UVA grads likely stay in Virginia, and Stanford grads likely stick around in Silicon Valley (e.g., 100% of the Stanford grads that I know). The cost of living in Silicon Valley is dramatically more expensive than in Virginia. E.g, the cheapest condo in Palo Alto listed on Zillow is priced at $548,000 (which is > $300k above the already insane appraisal value) and for that, you get 679 square feet. Since I was an intern, my housing was (fortunately!) covered by my employer when I worked in Mountain View, but my boss ended up taking a job elsewhere because he and his wife simply could not afford anything more spacious than an RV. If you don't adjust the salary to the cost of living, your study is fundamentally flawed.

about 7 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Should Developers Fix Bugs They Cause On Their Own Time?

raddan Re:Guarantee (716 comments)

We don't need to certify programmers, we need to certify programs. I'm not sure that certification for programmers would provide any extra benefit other than maybe being a prior on whether you think the programmer can get the job done or not (and I'm not a Bayesian, so...).

On the other hand, many properties about programs themselves can and should be verified. A great deal of current programming language research is devoted toward both improving the capabilities of automatic program verification as well as designing languages more amenable to verification. Functional languages, for instance, rule out entire classes of bugs present in imperative languages. People complain that they're hard to understand. Maybe. I argue that they're hard to understand if you're the kind of person who does not care about whether your program is correct or not.

about 8 months ago
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Asm.js Gets Faster

raddan Re:"So who needs native code now?" (289 comments)

Unless and until some unforeseen, miraculous breakthrough happens in language design, GCd languages will always be slower when it comes to memory management. And because memory management is so critical for complex applications, GCd languages will effectively always be slower, period.

This isn't true. Have a look at Quantifying the Performance of Garbage Collection vs. Explicit Memory Management. The take-away is that GC'd languages are only slower if you are unwilling to pay an extra memory cost; typically 3-4x of your explicitly-managed program. Given that GC gives you safety from null-pointer dereferences for free, I think that's a fair tradeoff for most applications (BTW, you can run the Boehm collector on explicitly-managed code to identify pointer safety issues).

about 10 months ago
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Asm.js Gets Faster

raddan Re:Maximum precision? (289 comments)

I was being glib. Just nitpicking on the phrase "maximum precision". Sorry, it's a bad habit developed from working around a bunch of pedantic nerds all day.

Thanks for the pointer about native ints, although I can't seem to find any kind of authoritative reference about this. This guy claims that asm.js converts these to native ints (see Section 2.3: Value Types), but his link seems to be talking about the JavaScript runtime, not the asm.js compiler. If you have a reference, I'd appreciate it if you'd send it along.

about 10 months ago
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Asm.js Gets Faster

raddan Maximum precision? (289 comments)

Let's just open up my handy Javascript console in Chrome...

(0.1 + 0.2) == 0.3
false

It doesn't matter how many bits you use in floating point. It is always an approximation. And in base-2 floating point, the above will never be true.

If they're saying that JavaScript is within 1.5x of native code, they're cherry-picking the results. There's a reason why people who care have a rich set of numeric datatypes.

about 10 months ago
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'Approximate Computing' Saves Energy

raddan Re:Numerical computation is pervasive (154 comments)

My mind inevitably goes to this when someone says "Big O". Makes being a computer scientist somewhat difficult.

about 10 months ago
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'Approximate Computing' Saves Energy

raddan Re:Numerical computation is pervasive (154 comments)

Not to mention floating-point computation, numerical analysis, anytime algorithms, and classic randomized algorithms like Monte Carlo algorithms. Approximate computing has been around for ages. The typical scenario is to save computation, nowadays expressed in terms of asymptotic complexity ("Big O"). Sometimes (as is the case with floating point), this tradeoff is necessary to make the problem tractable (e.g., numerical integration is much cheaper than symbolic integration).

The only new idea here is using approximate computing specifically in trading high precision for lower power. The research has less to do with new algorithms and more to do with new applications of classic algorithms.

about 10 months ago
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The Challenge of Cross-Language Interoperability

raddan Re:Cross language - what .Net gets right (286 comments)

Believe it or not, CIL (or MSIL in Microsoft-speak), the bytecode for .NET, is an ECMA standard, and implementations of both .NET JIT'ers and standard libraries exist for practically all modern platforms, thanks to Mono. So I'd say: "competition for portable applications". Really! Just take a look at Gtk#. As a result, there are numerous applications for Linux written in .NET languages (e.g., Banshee). Having written huge amounts of code in both JVM languages (Java, Scala, JRuby, and Clojure) and .NET languages (F# and C#), I would take .NET over the JVM for a new project any day.

Also, to pre-emptively swat down this counter-argument: while the Mono people and Microsoft may have had some animosity in the past, it is most definitely not the case any more. Most of the Mono people I have spoken to (yes, in person) say that their relationship with Microsoft is pretty good.

Build systems and dependency management for the JVM are their own mini-nightmare. .NET's approach isn't perfect but compared to [shudder] Ant, Maven, Buildr, SBT, and on and on and on... it largely just works.

about a year ago
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The Challenge of Cross-Language Interoperability

raddan Re:Cross language - what .Net gets right (286 comments)

P/Invoke, the other interop mechanism alluded to by the poster, is substantially faster than COM interop. I spent a summer at Microsoft Research investigating ways to make interop for .NET faster. There's maybe 20 or so cycles of overhead for P/Invoke, which is practically free from a performance standpoint. In addition to having its own [reference-counting] garbage collector, COM has extensive automatic-marshaling capabilities. These things make interop easy, but they add substantial overhead compared to P/Invoke. On the other hand, P/Invoke is somewhat painful to use, particularly if you want to avoid marshaling overheads and play nice with .NET's [tracing] garbage collector and managed type system. P/Invoke will often happily accept your ginned-up type signatures and then fail at runtime. Ouch.

Coming from the Java world, I was totally blown away by what .NET can do. I can't speak for Microsoft myself, but I would be very surprised if .NET was not going to stick around for a long time. With the exception of perhaps Haskell, the .NET runtime is probably the most advanced managed runtime available to ordinary programmers (i.e., non-researchers). And, with some small exceptions (BigInteger performance... GRRR!), Mono is a close second. What the Scala compiler is capable of squeezing out of the poor, little JVM is astonishing, but Scala's performance is often bad in surprising ways, largely due to workarounds for shortcomings in the JVM's type system.

about a year ago
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On the subject of robots ...

raddan Re:overly broad then overly specific definition (318 comments)

I think the key distinction is that a robot is autonomous to some degree. It needs to make use of techniques from AI. I.e., it learns.

As someone who dabbles in techniques from AI to solve problems in my own domain (programming language research), solutions in AI tend to have the quality that the algorithms that produced them are extremely general. For example, a robot that can manipulate objects may not even possess a subroutine that tells it how it should move its hands. Often, it learns these things by example instead. It "makes sense" of the importance of these actions through the use of statistical calculations, or logical solvers, or both. Since information in this context is subject to many "interpretations", these algorithms often most closely resemble search algorithms! If a programmer provides anything, it's in the form of "hints" to the algorithm (i.e., heuristics). To an outsider, it's completely non-obvious how "search" and "object manipulation" are related, but when you frame the problem that way, you get weird and sometimes wonderful results. Most notably, autonomy. Sadly, you also sometimes get wrong answers ;)

If your washing machine could go collect your dirty laundry and wash it without your help, I'd call it a laundry robot. Particularly if you could tell it something like "please do a better job cleaning stains", and it could figure out what you meant by that. Note that a Roomba doesn't know anything about your house until you turn it on the first time.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Good electronic lab notebook software for CompSci?

raddan raddan writes  |  more than 4 years ago

raddan (519638) writes "I'm starting as a MS/PhD computer science student in the fall, and having gotten accustomed to electronic tools like RT, wikis, and version-control repositories in the private software industry, I'd like something similar for my lab notebook. However, I've discovered that most of these tools are either 1) geared toward the biological sciences or 2) just plain too expensive for me, probably because many fields have strict legal and ethical requirements for note-keeping. Anyone know of something affordable geared toward computer science? What are the legal and ethical requirements for CS notebooks anyway? And, of course, it'd be nice if I could run it on Linux. Is this just a fantasy?"
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Windows 7 Whopper Cross-Promotion in Japan

raddan raddan writes  |  more than 4 years ago

raddan (519638) writes "NPR has a story about a new cross-promotion Microsoft is doing with Burger King in Japan:
To heighten awareness of its new Windows 7 operating software in Japan, Microsoft teamed up with Burger King for a cross-promotion. It's a Windows 7 Whopper — seven hamburger patties stacked in a bun. The offer is good for seven days, and it's only for the first 30 customers who come into the store each day."

Link to Original Source
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Prolific hacker, Jun-ichiro "itojun" Hagin

raddan raddan writes  |  more than 6 years ago

raddan (519638) writes "Jun-ichiro "itojun" Itoh Hagino passed away on October 29, 2007 at the age of 37. Details are light, but there's a brief thread going over at undeadly. itojun was probably best known for his work on the KAME IPv6 stack which will benefit us for years to come. itojun, you will be missed!"
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Author Robert Jordan dies

raddan raddan writes  |  more than 7 years ago

raddan (519638) writes "Our company just sent out the following memo:

Tor novelist Robert Jordan (whose given name was James Oliver Rigney Jr.), the beloved author of the bestselling Wheel of Time® fantasy series, died Sunday after a courageous battle with the rare blood disease amyloidosis.

In an entry posted Sunday on Jordan's blog at www.dragonmount.com, Jordan's cousin Wilson Grooms wrote that he passed away Sunday, September 16th at 2:45 pm and noted that: "He fought a valiant fight against this most horrid disease. In the end, he left peacefully and in no pain," and that "his beloved wife, Harriet, was at this side through the entire fight and to the end."

Tor publisher Tom Doherty said of Jordan: "He was one of the great storytellers of the 20th and early 21st centuries; Jim's Wheel of Time is a towering epic of power and scope, he was a man of courage and heart and vision but for me, first of all, he was my friend of 30 years.""

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