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Comments

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Horseshoe Crabs Are Bled Alive To Create an Unparalleled Biomedical Technology

sydneyfong Re:Sensationalist Headline much? (159 comments)

Depends. If you're kidnapped to the blood donation center and had your skin pierced and blood forcibly "removed" (I try not to use "bleed") from your body, while you are not dead yet, I suppose it fits the definition of being "bled alive".

about 1 month ago
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The Neuroscience of Computer Programming

sydneyfong Re:Code is closer to legalese than math (161 comments)

(Sorry for stereotyping but) you're a typical geek. You think that words can have a precise, context-free meaning, and whether something falls within the meaning of a word (or a technical term) can be done in polynomial time.

The real world is much more complicated than that.

Take for example, what is a male and what is female? You'd think it's easy enough to determine that if you have access to the genitals, but there's still difficult corner cases to handle. For legal questions, it can be even more complicated. Questions like "was there a contract?" "is this negligence?" "did the person have the 'intention' to commit the crime?" are simply too 'complicated' to have a deterministic algorithm for all the cases. And before you ask why there are so many lawsuits (I'd imagine many more than the number of people with an indeterminate sex), the fact is that for the vast majority of cases the question is pretty clear cut, and it's really the corner cases that seriously go to court for a dispute on issues of law (as opposed to factual disputes, eg. whether a person did indeed sign a contract, whether the accused did kill the victim, etc.).

Supposedly you can really write out all the anticipated cases in a super horrifically complex program. But then, even if we suppose we can resolve the controversial cases where the facts don't fit our intuition (eg. the many many many situations whether or not you can have an abortion), it defeats the other purpose, that the (general) legal principles should be understandable by a lay person. In fact, lawyers are human beings too (well, not going into the soul question), and if the solution is not understandable by a significant number of lawyers, it's not going to become law. That's where your argument comes in -- but honestly, when you're good at skill X, you'd tend to believe that skill X is all you need to solve the world's problems, until you realize that when you apply skill X outside of its usual domain, it doesn't work in practice. (Just check out the mad scientists cartoons/movies for how things that work in theory could go wrong) The fundamental flaw I see, is that people expect the law to *usually* work according to their *intuition*. Usually court decisions don't tend to go against common sense, and when it does, the legislature will "correct" the decision (at least for common law systems) so that the law is what people expect. The problem is, what people expect can be very self-inconsistent, and what people expect is usually optimized for the normal case, not optimized to reduce the awkward corner cases. If you have no idea what the "self-inconsistencies" of a normal human being is, try understanding a woman. (to please the feminists: or a man who's not a logician -- getting to understand the opposite sex makes you wonder whether everyone's brains are just full of inconsistencies)

And of course you can't just look at the law in its current state and simply declare it void because you have a supposedly better system "intelligently designed" by a genius. I'm not sure about you, but I personally would be very skeptical of any large "rewrite" of a system by a person who doesn't even understand what the system is about.

I do agree there could be a bit more inter-disciplinary research on how CS can assist in making law less complex, but ... from what I know and understand (not to say that it's a lot), I'm skeptical whether there could be any groundbreaking results.

I'd say, getting legislation to use a proper version control system, and if a git-blame could show all the people who voted for/against a particular law, it would already be a great win. :)

about 2 months ago
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The Neuroscience of Computer Programming

sydneyfong Re:Code is closer to legalese than math (161 comments)

Law is fuzzy. Programming is usually not.
Law is often inconsistent. Programming (or the underlying logic) usually cannot be inconsistent.
Law is relatively simple once you get past the fuzziness and inconsistencies. A lot of software is multitudes more complex than legalese.
There's often an easy way to test your program. Not so easy to test a legal theory or opinion. (You go to court, spend thousands or millions on legal fees before you get a judge to decide on the matter -- and then you have appeals)
Lawyers are usually not very anal about making the law "efficient" and "easy to understand". Sometimes the law is more complicated than it needs to be, and the lawyers like it that way (after all, they make money by translating all that crap to plain language). Most good programmers, on the other hand, strive to make their code easy to read.

English common law is basically all about struggling with legacy issues and finding new applications for old "code". The concerns about "backwards compatibility" (i.e. not overriding previous decisions) appear often enough to warrant a mention.

Disclaimer: IANAL, have a law degree, and I'm a software engineer.

about 2 months ago
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James Dyson: We Should Pay Students To Study Engineering

sydneyfong Re:How about paying students after graduation? (321 comments)

Somebody is just bitter.

Sure, there's a bunch of money sucking parasites in Wall Street, and then another bunch of them in Washington DC, but then, to claim that they are the "only" jobs that pay well, is bullshit. The richest people in the world aren't the ones that merely push money about (except maybe Buffett). If you're talking about being an employee at a large corporation kind of "job", how about 3 million dollars at Google? Not sure how productive he was, but I'm pretty sure he wasn't in the business of pushing money around per se.

Tech is generally as well paid as any other industry -- it's just disingenuous to whine about compensation in the tech industry when it's been outgrowing basically every other industry, and companies scrambling to hire anyone who has a hint of talent.

about 2 months ago
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Reports Say Satya Nadella Is Microsoft's Next CEO

sydneyfong Re:Trend? (177 comments)

An improvement from the "Chair in the Air" days, I suppose?

about 2 months ago
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IE Drops To Single-Digit Market Share

sydneyfong Re:More reprsentative stats please (390 comments)

They say that some people are using lower-end Android phones as a "dumb" phone.

about 2 months ago
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BlackBerry Sues iPhone Keyboard Maker Typo

sydneyfong Re:All I can say to that is... (226 comments)

Actually I haven't seen it in action. I've never used a blackberry or even seen a person using one up close

Yet I am confident enough to comment on whether this thing I have never seen contains any new inventions or not. Because I just know..

about 3 months ago
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"Clinical Trials" For Programming Languages?

sydneyfong Re:Different languages, different issues. (232 comments)

Might be a bit off-topic, but when the system gets (for example) 5 answers from 5 different computers, how do they make sure that the program/computer that reads and verifies those 5 answers is correct and fault tolerant?

about 3 months ago
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"Clinical Trials" For Programming Languages?

sydneyfong Re:What I'm trying to do (232 comments)

Using a week to learn a language and do a small project on it isn't that crazy. The problem is just that after week 30 or so, you start to run out of sane and useful languages (unless you dig into the obscure) and end up experimenting with brainf**k.

about 3 months ago
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Google Sues Consortium Backed By Apple and Microsoft to Protect Android

sydneyfong Re:Arbitrage? (150 comments)

Patents are a payment made in exchange for destroying a trade secret

Only if it were a worthy trade secret in the first place.

in exchange for publishing your idea and telling everyone how to do it

Right, how to do it. Pardon me for failing to see how making an invention which was "almost impossible to do at the time" is worthy of a patent...

about 4 months ago
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Google Sues Consortium Backed By Apple and Microsoft to Protect Android

sydneyfong Re:About time. (150 comments)

Bullshit. Tell me when they release an open source implementation of MapReduce, Chubby, BigTable, their version of OpenStack, and the Linux variant they use on their own servers.

Google just uses open source technologies developed by others to build their products on. The ones they actually develop themselves and release under an OSS license are the software they wish to popularize to push their own agenda. Not something evil per se, but everyone else on the planet does the same thing and they don't deserve the halo you're giving them.

about 4 months ago
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A Flood of Fawning Reviews For Apple's Latest

sydneyfong Re:Video editing... (501 comments)

Annual cost of a [human] friend: $0 (well, real friends anyway)

about 4 months ago
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F-Secure's Mikko Hypponen Cancels RSA Talk In Protest

sydneyfong Re:As an American (248 comments)

I'll believe it when "most of you" Americans get your act together and vote surveillance out of your Free and Democratic country.

about 4 months ago
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Google's Dart Becomes ECMA's Dart

sydneyfong Re:Not to rain anybody's party, but.... (190 comments)

Duh. This is what you get when you adopt unproven technology.

*Real* old people use the stuff that were brought to market 10+ years ago.

about 4 months ago
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More Students Learn CS In 3 Days Than Past 100 Years

sydneyfong Re:some major contradictions here (287 comments)

Damn.

1000000000 / (7*24*60*60) * 20*10
= 330687

Damn...
who has mod points to mod me to oblivion?

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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sydneyfong sydneyfong writes  |  more than 7 years ago

sydneyfong (410107) writes "A user demonstrates how online spreadsheets could help create and maintain "databases" in a useful and easy to use manner. He transforms spreadsheet data into RDF by using the XML export facility in EditGrid (an online spreadsheets application) and applying a custom XSLT template."

Journals

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Call for alternate (DNS) root servers

sydneyfong sydneyfong writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Originally at http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=410854&cid=21969012

Given these recent outrageous and blatant violations by registrars, and the indifference of ICANN, this should be a perfect time to resurrect the idea of an alternate system of root DNS servers.

If nothing is done to address the problems, the .com, .net domain name space would probably be filled up with spam junk (if they are not saturated with crap already). Given the increasing importance of the Internet infrastructure these days, it's outrageous to think that the basic infrastructure of the Internet is held hostage by a small group of greedy corporate bastards. Remember the last time Verisign tried to redirect all non-existent .com/.net requests to their own portal site? They are willing to screw up anything as long as they can get away with it (and money).

I understand that the worst TLDs in question are .com and .net, but they set the example. How long would it be for country TLDs to follow the corporate footsteps of Verisign, Network Solutions and co?

I think it should be most apt to start meaningful discussion here on Slashdot, where there are enough people who have the expertise and skills --- and interest and passion, to pull this one off.

I have looked around a bit regarding projects such as AlterNIC, OpenNIC, OpenRSC, etc. But all those projects are dead or at the very least in deep hibernation. I have a feeling that the projects aren't really meant to be serious, rather they are hobbyist projects/social experiments that even the founders couldn't care less about.

Does nobody care at all?

That being said, I personally don't have any concrete proposals. But given the enthusiastic response of Slashdot readers (there are 600+ comments here), I believe we can gather enough personnel and expertise to give the old idea a new try. Interested parties might want to post a reply here, or in my Journal.

Any takers?

[Oh and moderators, you might actually want to mod this one up...]

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Hello World!

sydneyfong sydneyfong writes  |  more than 7 years ago

This is an attempt to use slashdot's journal feature as a blog (like blogger,myspace,xanga, etc.)

I mean, it's there, I use slashdot regularly, and has this coolness factor. Why not?

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