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Comments

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Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

superwiz degree? (391 comments)

Maybe. Background? Absolutely. Tim Bray often attributes this

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things.

to Phil Karlton. But he does it so often that it is usually attributed to Tim Bray. Naming things is where the code monkeys usually fail. Engineers who think they are programmers usually fail at it hard. It takes a certain fluidity and realization of how actual human beings interact with the world to give content meaningful context (by naming it right) and to understand problem domains well-enough to pick the right cache invalidation schemes. And, of course, understanding how human beings interact with the world is what one gets out of a liberal arts degree. As I said, it doesn't have to be a degree, but the background has to be there.

4 days ago
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Tim Cook Says Apple Can't Read Users' Emails, That iCloud Wasn't Hacked

superwiz The old Jackie Mason routine (191 comments)

Reagan was happy, he was always smiling

They asked him, "what about the defiicit?"

He said, "there is no deficit!"

They told him, "but there is!"

So he said, "so there is."

...

30 years later

There is is no emal theft! But there is!.... waaaait for it.

4 days ago
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Harvard's CompSci Intro Course Boasts Record-Breaking Enrollment

superwiz Re:Linux, cryptography, HTML and JavaScript. (140 comments)

it's not because of a limitation in C.

C most definitely has the limitation which C++ tried to address and failed. Return should have been a pointer to the address where the returned value ends up being copied when it's popped off the stack. Instead it's just a syntactic premature end of a function. Had it been a simple pointer to the place where the function's return value ends up being copied, C++ would not have been invented because it would have been unnecessary. I am talking about the semantic that is present in Matlab functions (where you can assign to the return value directly). C++ tried to address it by having "this" pointer, but it ended up mixing the data and the functions which operate on it. Which is why its syntax will never be simple.

For example

int a = f();

should allow f to assign directly to the memory location where 'a' is. Like I said, there are obvious work arounds. You can pass the address of a to f() instead of doing direct assignment. But it break the semantics. And it reduces readability. And human time is more important than computer time, so readability is more important than slight loss of efficiency in execution.

The problem is that once 'a' is not an int anymore, but is a complicated structure, you are stuck. And if you still don't think that's a problem, try implementing a fully-efficient (no redundant copying or inquiries) discriminated union in either C or C++. Good luck! Your easiest solution at that point is to just generate the code in some text generating language. But if each function had access to the point of return, it would be trivial. Oh, and discriminated unions are all of networking and all of data management.

4 days ago
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Harvard's CompSci Intro Course Boasts Record-Breaking Enrollment

superwiz Re:Linux, cryptography, HTML and JavaScript. (140 comments)

If you don't understand how pointers and return values in C works, it's not because of a limitation in C.

Hhm... to ad hominem or not to ad hominem that is the question that preoccupies us. Whether it is nobler, in the mind, to suffer the slings of mud of outrageous statements or to take aim and by opposing them thus end them.

The full amount of what you don't know and the years of experience that you lack to make the judgement that you made would take a volume of a flame war to fight out.

C and C++ are about as relevant today as assembly. If you don't understand that C++ template mechanism and C pre-processor are nothing but compile-time text generation tools with arcane unwieldy syntax, then you have no place making judgement. There are better tools to generate the same code that both of these end up generating. The better tools capture what you want to express without being bound by the arcane syntax of C. And unless you think that direct bit banging and micro assembly are the "real" CS (hint: they are not -- they engineering rather than CS), your argument is moot.

4 days ago
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Harvard's CompSci Intro Course Boasts Record-Breaking Enrollment

superwiz Re:Linux, cryptography, HTML and JavaScript. (140 comments)

C++ is still (effectively rather than literally) generating C code at compile time. It's just not the step that needs to be taken directly. But all C++ symantics express nothing but generation of C code at compile time.

4 days ago
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Harvard's CompSci Intro Course Boasts Record-Breaking Enrollment

superwiz Re:Linux, cryptography, HTML and JavaScript. (140 comments)

JavaScript (or any language in which string values and language symbols are interchangeable) is more important to know now than C. C can generated. And it's quickly getting to the point where that's all it's good for -- being auto generated. It is just text after all.

5 days ago
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Harvard's CompSci Intro Course Boasts Record-Breaking Enrollment

superwiz Re:Linux, cryptography, HTML and JavaScript. (140 comments)

C and C++ no longer have any place in basic CS education. Sorry, we are at the point where it's more efficient to generate C than to write it. And since C++ is just generated C with really, really arcane syntax for this compile-time generation, C++ lost its purpose, too. There are more expressive (ie, easier to read) and less error-prone methods for generating C code now. It's finally becoming yesterday's news. The whole reason you see "resurgence" of C is that people are not writing it. They are generating it as an intermediate product. C is just text. And there are better ways to generate that text than the preprocessor or the C++'s template mechanism. C, however, has a major, major, major design flaw -- you can't assign to return values directly. So as a mechanism for expressing algorithms it has a natural inefficiency built into the language. It's not that there is no simple work around for it in C, it's that it needs a work around. It's over.

5 days ago
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Harvard's CompSci Intro Course Boasts Record-Breaking Enrollment

superwiz Re:Linux, cryptography, HTML and JavaScript. (140 comments)

Really? I just thought that was something one picked at birth. No, really, is that even a form of knowledge? I just find these to be self evident. Often find it surprising that trivialities have names behind them when people start talking about them as fields of knowledge.

5 days ago
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New DNA Analysis On Old Blood Pegs Aaron Kosminski As Jack the Ripper

superwiz Re:I now know what age Russell Edwards is (135 comments)

because businessmen and politicians are people. As opposed to scientists and engineers (who are only named in the press based on their nationality, place of residence, and employer name rather than their actual human characteristics).

about two weeks ago
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New DNA Analysis On Old Blood Pegs Aaron Kosminski As Jack the Ripper

superwiz Re:A 'Jewish' immigrant? (135 comments)

Poland, apparently.

about two weeks ago
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New DNA Analysis On Old Blood Pegs Aaron Kosminski As Jack the Ripper

superwiz Re:Convenient (135 comments)

Wow. What century is this again? I thought most people who said garbage like this died out a long time ago.

about two weeks ago
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Getting Into College the Old Fashioned Way: With Money

superwiz Didn't realize NYU was so competitve (161 comments)

Back in my day, NYU is where you went if you dropped out of Cooper Union.

about two weeks ago
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Kernel Developer Dmitry Monakhov Arrested For Protesting Ukraine Invasion

superwiz Re:Which Invasion? (205 comments)

Of course, the evidence of WMD's was very circumstantial. In this case, there is footage. And there are 2500 dead people. And it's all because of Putin's direct orders (this part is my opinion... but it's obvious to anyone whose ego is not invested in chest-beating for Mother Russia). Russia never fails to supply the world with a good tragedy. It stood at the doorstep of becoming civilized and it decided to turn around and slam that door shot. I wish what's about to ensue could be a hilarity. But the campaign of deception that is running out of Russia is almost as depressing as the Russian campaign of terror.

about two weeks ago
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Kernel Developer Dmitry Monakhov Arrested For Protesting Ukraine Invasion

superwiz Re:Which Invasion? (205 comments)

They all agreed there was evidence for it. They were all right. There was evidence. There just wasn't WMD's.

about two weeks ago
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Kernel Developer Dmitry Monakhov Arrested For Protesting Ukraine Invasion

superwiz Re:Which Invasion? (205 comments)

Oh, I am pretty sure anyone in Russia today will insist that any evidence reported by the West is the opposite of the truth (rather than less credible) because it is reported by the West. Try convincing any member of a terrorist organization that what they are doing is wrong. You'll get a long soliloquy on why they are right. Russia is waging a campaign of terror against Ukraine. They've convinced enough of their population that this campaign of terror is justified and those not convinced are simply nodding along, out of fear, now.

about two weeks ago
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Kernel Developer Dmitry Monakhov Arrested For Protesting Ukraine Invasion

superwiz Re:Which Invasion? (205 comments)

If you gonna post nonsense like this, post it under a name. Otherwise, you are just another KGB monkey with a keyboard.

about two weeks ago
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Kernel Developer Dmitry Monakhov Arrested For Protesting Ukraine Invasion

superwiz Re:Which Invasion? (205 comments)

WMD information didn't happen in a vacuum. It happened after Iraq repeatedly violated the terms of the cease-fire agreement by denying WMD inspectors access to sites they wanted to inspect. The fact that there was additional intelligence indicating that he might have been trying to procure WMD's made it look like he was. He wasn't? Ok. But he made it look like he was and that is why it got reported the way it did.

about two weeks ago
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Kernel Developer Dmitry Monakhov Arrested For Protesting Ukraine Invasion

superwiz Re:Russia is back to totalitarism (205 comments)

It's not as stupid as you might think. The cost of transporting it to the place where it's needed could far outweigh (in pure energy costs) the costs of growing it locally.

about three weeks ago
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Kernel Developer Dmitry Monakhov Arrested For Protesting Ukraine Invasion

superwiz Re:Which Invasion? (205 comments)

If you think that MSNBC, FOX News and CNN agree on something and it's still not true, well, you better have a helluva citation yourself.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Scientist Claiming Threat to Polar Bears Suspended

superwiz superwiz writes  |  more than 3 years ago

superwiz (655733) writes "Just five years ago, Charles Monnett was one of the scientists whose observation that several polar bears had drowned in the Arctic Ocean helped galvanize the global warming movement. Now, the wildlife biologist is on administrative leave and facing accusations of scientific misconduct."
Link to Original Source
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A teen simplified Bernoulli formula

superwiz superwiz writes  |  more than 5 years ago

superwiz (655733) writes "Fox news reports this (oddly enough I can't find this story on the AMS website, so it might be a hoax):

I am wondering if he found a formula for Bernoulli denominators. But so far I can find little details beyond the "he simplified the formula" statement."
Link to Original Source

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Does ABC populate discussions with fake comments?

superwiz superwiz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

superwiz (655733) writes "I just read this story http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=4933727&page=1 on the ABC news web page and naturally I was tempted to comment on it. After registering as a member of the ABC news (first and last name were required for the registration, mind you), I tried to post a comment and was no longer able to load the website. Each browser that I tried was stuck in set-user-name-cookie/reload infinite cycle. I tried multiple browsers. And yet when I loaded the page without loging-in, there were already comments posted. If I wasn't able to log in and post comments, I would assume that neither could anyone else. So is ABC news putting up fake comments to the story as part of their attempt to control the content that they deliver? Is this astro-turf? Or is it a bona fide technical problem?"
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HP makes memory from a once-theoretical circuit

superwiz superwiz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

superwiz (655733) writes "
Thirty-seven years ago, Leon Chua, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, mathematically theorized that scientific symmetry demands that there should be a fourth fundamental circuit. Engineers were already familiar with resistors (which resist the flow of electricity), capacitors (which store electricity), and inductors (which resist changes to the flow of electrical current), which can be combined to build more complex devices. The fourth circuit, which Chua called a "memristor" for memory resistor, would register how much current had passed.
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9932054-7.html?tag=nefd.lede"

Journals

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Progress And Nihilism

superwiz superwiz writes  |  more than 7 years ago

A lot of soul-searching is happening in light of the Virginia Tech shooting. Many people sighed with relief that the shooter was not a video game player. Many others sighed with relief that he wasn't a Muslim. Everyone is shockingly asking "why?" Far be it from me to know what was the last straw that made him snap. I've known angry people in my life. I've known people fascinated with the truly morbid. None of them snapped. The last I heard, they were all living productive lives. So what made Seung-Hui Cho snap?

While this may be an unpopular position during this time of our unsuccessful prosecution of the war in Iraq and the all-too-obvious fact that the war on terror was hijacked to become a war to grab oil, I will still make the claim that this was a terrorist act. And I will attempt to say why terrorism occurs and why it is the scourge of civilization. While the term "civilization" is often used to distinguish those within one's group from those outside of one's group, I will try to be more precise in defining it. I will say that a civilization is a society that is committed to progress. Where progress is a process of making physical life (not spiritual, but physical) more comfortable. That is progress is the process of improving creature comforts for people so as to relief the suffering and discomfort that is caused to them by the mother nature.

Progress has a certain life-cycle. First, it is born. It is born out of innovative thinking of visionaries or out of aimless wondering of the curious. But it always starts with a new way of seeing the world. That is followed by a period of convincing the general population that this particular piece of progress is a good thing (tm). This is not always successful. Often the new and innovative ideas die at this stage. But those ideas that succeed, attract a following of the competent (often confusingly called "technologically elite") that wish to profit from blessing the world with this new way of living. As they go through the iterative stages of making the new progressive idea more usable and acceptable to the world, the "technological elite" earn enough power in the form of the world gratitude (usually expressed in financial compensation) to join the ranks of the actual elite -- the people who wield actual power over the general population.

Those who don't see the hard work, ingenuity and talent that is involved in creating progress don't see why it happens. All they see is the progress' missionaries' rise in power or affluence. They feel that they are not part of this rising tide (even though they do become benefactors of progress) and as a result they loose hope. For what is hope? It is the belief that future will be better than today. And once the rise of others is clear and is accompanied by realization that one cannot participate in that rise, it becomes very easy to believe that endeavors of one's life do not improve one's condition are not fruitful. Many times this is a fallacy because one's "moment of greatness" simply hasn't come, yet. Alas, sometimes it is, in fact, true. There are those who just coast through life not trying to improve it. Their moment of greatness never comes.

So what is the next step after the hopelessness sets in? Well, inevitably it is nihilism. And that is the last stage in the life-cycle of progress. Those who did not participate in progress' fruition loose hope and become nihilistic. Nihilism is a destructive tendency. As a matter of fact, it can be defined as taking joy in destruction (not necessarily caused by one's hands).

Nihilism takes many forms. Communism is one of the most grandiose nihilistic movements because it wishes to reverse the clock on progress and to re-distribute the wealth created by progress so that those responsible for it get no more benefit than those idly standing by. Large scale terrorism is a smaller scale nihilism. It only wishes to wrest the laurels of progress from the peoples that created it in order to give it to those peoples that did not. Mass murder is an even lesser scale and harder to understand form of nihilism because it is always impossible to predict when it so happens that a single individual passes that threshold of having a glimmer of hope and having none.

It is the wish of everyone involved in the work of bringing progress to fruition that they be recognized for the great benefit that they bring to the world. They are the only ones that separate us from savages. Social scientists and clerics would argue that they contribute a great deal, too. But their work has not changed much in 2000 years. Civilization has improved in that time tremendously though. So what can a civilization do in the face of nihilism? Well, its only choices are to surrender to it or to fight it. Now I can feel the reader's eye rolling up at the word "fight". How can I suggest that destruction be met with something so uncreative as more destruction? I am doing nothing of the kind though.

This fight must be for the minds of those without hope. It must be waged by teaching the world how to become active participants in the work of progress. The primary goal of governments must be not only protecting the civilization from the destructive drive of those who surrendered to the nihilism, but also the educating of those who have a glimpse of hope -- educating them how to create. The missionaries of progress must walk hand-in-hand with those in power so as not to isolate themselves from those who can contribute and who wish to contribute to the work of creation. It is very tempting to argue that it is a basic human right to be left alone. But that won't stem the building tide of nihilism outside of one's castle.

In the end stage of life-cycle of progress is a test of civilization. The test of whether a civilization can fight nihilism without itself becoming more destructive than the nihilists. The civilizations that pass this test get to part-take in the next wave of progress. The ones that fail it, get to be fondly remembered as the "good old days".

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