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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

tomxor Re:Your Results Will Vary (236 comments)

In contrast, web development doesn't really require any of these. However, they all involve "programming", and the people writing the software can all be called "programmers", even if one's writing a website (no math) and another is doing a fluid dynamics simulation (lots of math).

I don't entirely disagree... but :P i am a web developer, who also happens to like lots of vector math, writing physics engines and in particular: writing SPH fluid dynamics simulations and other n-body simulations.

I would agree that some of my understanding of slightly above basic math is not necessary in most of the more common web development work in my job, but i do find it helps me be a better programmer in general... so perhaps the point is that math can make you a better programmer. Id also argue that it makes you better at engineering software rather than just "programming" it, but perhaps that has more to do with the experience of programming complex tasks that also require complex math.

2 days ago

People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use

tomxor Pissing in the wind (706 comments)

That's why people with any sense know that "cutting down" is futile.

If you don't want lung cancer the answer is to not smoke... not just drop from 100 a day to 99 a day... if everyone saves 1% of their energy usage, it will add up globally to whopping... 1% reduction, in combination with the global population growth rate that is utterly pointless.

Change in energy production is the answer, and for that it's not quite as easy for everyone to "do their bit". Trying to justify quantity is impossible, because there is no line to draw, and ultimately not existing is the answer to solving the problem using quantity as the only variable.

5 days ago

Consciousness On-Off Switch Discovered Deep In Brain

tomxor Re:Brain ZAP! (284 comments)

10 years older but also in the physical state equivalent to being in a coma for 10 years... I'd rather stay awake.

about two weeks ago

Polymer-Based Graphene Substitute Is Easy To Mass-Produce

tomxor Re:substitute? (37 comments)

beat me to it :P

about two weeks ago

Programming On a Piano Keyboard

tomxor I Play Piano on a Computer Keyboard (57 comments)

:P It lacks certain subtleties of a proper midi keyboard such as velocity, but with 2-3 stacked octaves it's possible to play quite a lot. Learning a different arrangement isn't all that hard, it's just like playing a slightly different instrument. I actually find certain types of playing like monotone arpeggios easier with the supper light action laptop style keyboards, i guess it's also not that dissimilar to using a programmable midi pad.

My most fun tune to play this way yet has to be "The Halls of Science" by Mike Morasky (from portal), as a pure sine wave of course :D and what more appropriate way than performing on a computer keyboard.

about a month ago

Florida Man Faces $48k Fine For Jamming Drivers' Cellphones

tomxor If legality was all people cared about... (358 comments)

...this wouldn't be a story. The law did it's job and the man was fined, but there isn't a news article for every parking ticket.

The reason this is interesting is because the ethics of this part of the law are in question.

about a month ago

Scientists Measure Magnetic Interaction Between Two Bound Electrons

tomxor Re:Ingress is unclear: not inverse cube force (26 comments)

Just to clarify... by interaction do you mean the sum of forces?

If so; are the constituent forces well known, or can they be deduced from the known forces and the total interaction?

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Way to Learn C# For Game Programming?

tomxor Re:The very best book for C#? (254 comments)

Good advice, make pong then make something marginally more complex and repeat. Then when the OP knows enough he will probably have to re imagine his original concept anyway.

about 1 month ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Way to Learn C# For Game Programming?

tomxor Learn Game Programming - Not C*!# (254 comments)

You have a more important problem than which language to chose. The most striking thing about your post is it sounds like you have grand designs for a game (your first game) and that's a bad thing. What you are doing is what almost every new game developer attempts to do... or at least thinks about: going in too big, running before you can walk, building a supersonic jet before you've built your first paper plane etc etc...

Sure you have programming experience and sound design and 3D modeling experience. But when you made your first 3D model did you create a masterpiece with immense detail? or just randomly poke around vertices of an abstract nurb? It's easy to get carried away having big plans for a big game, but you are one person, and you haven't? made your first game yet. You will fail in one way or another, so fail on something small first, then build up to your big idea (which will almost definitely change after you get your feet wet and get a sense of how practical the original ideas were).

Even just pick a small part of the big game that you envision... something so small that it should not take long to build (but it will take longer than you think), don't flesh it out, don't get carried away with detail, focus on a basic concept and see how far you get, this is how you learn: iterate. Wanting to have everything you imagine in your game is easy, deciding what you can have and what is more important is what you will learn.

Also something that might bias your choice of language, is that you will have to decide how much you want to build from scratch and how much 3rd party code you want to use, i.e in terms of engines. If you have very little interest in the physics engines and graphics engines behind games then you will have the task of choosing from the vast range of readily available ones. Not only does that sway your choice of language but it also sets you on a different path of learning, you have to learn how to use someone elses engine rather than learn how to write your own. Using someone else will give you more capability but less creative freedom and insight into how things really work, and could limit you to particular languages.

about 1 month ago

Dell Exec Calls HP's New 'Machine' Architecture 'Laughable'

tomxor Re:RTFA (173 comments)

...The only difference I see between a traditional machine and this one is that the separation between transient state and persistent state is physical in a traditional machine - DRAM is transient, disk drives are persistent (and writes onto disk are commits to the persistent state), while this new machine would most likely enforce a logical separation...

The separation is not supposed to be that clean cut, otherwise the obvious solution is something like a dynamically sized swap file for system memory, or a harder physical allocation for contiguity, at which point the difference in operation would be small...

One of the biggest advantages (second to the physical performance improvement) of this concept is supposed to be the absence of unnecessarily duplicating persistent data into system memory, this is also mentioned in the article. This is what makes the logical separation far less clear, which is why i think the possibility for overlap and corruption of persistent data via running state is a reasonable concern.

about a month ago

Dell Exec Calls HP's New 'Machine' Architecture 'Laughable'

tomxor Re:RTFA (173 comments)

ok, then your interpretation of the OPs concern must be quite different from mine :S ... why the rhetorical HDD / SSD response?

about a month ago

Dell Exec Calls HP's New 'Machine' Architecture 'Laughable'

tomxor RTFA (173 comments)

"With persistent memory, the machine state gets messed up, you are so screwed."

Uh, have you looked into your computer recently? I believe you'll find either this little device called "an HDD" or this other little device called "an SSD". And people with those seldom get screwed.

If you read the article from the previous slashdot story about HP's "The Machine", you will find that they are not simply trying to use memsistors to replace main memory, but that they are also trying to consolidate the storage memory and working memory into a single piece of memory, this is why it is considered to be substantially different memory architecture which also requires the OS to work a little differently too... if you are old enough think "Ram Disk"

The difference being that usually any stored data to be used by the processor has to first be loaded into working memory from the large slow storage memory... as i'm sure you are aware, which is why SSDs are so popular... but even NAND is many times slower than SDRAM, so the separation remains.

The idea is that if a sufficiently fast, dense, persistent and cheap type of memory can be found then the best of both can be consolidated into one. The concern of the OP is that issues affecting running state could affect the traditionally less dynamic stored state... Working memory is usually treated as volatile and disposable, and your block device is not, but the line is now blurred.

I think it's a reasonable concern, but one that is likely to be addressed by the OS, a less physical separation between what is running state and what is not would need to be implemented, but at the same time the advantages of not "loading" data need to be retained... making everything that goes into the running state duplicate would bring back the "loading" problem slightly.

about a month ago

545-Person Programming War Declares a Winner

tomxor Reduced to a linear problem (57 comments)

Anyone else find it odd that he used a distance squared force for a 2D problem? The surface of a circle depends linearly on the radius.

Linearly being the key word... take it one step at a time (before looking at what geometry inverse square law could represent). The rule is derived entirely from distance... Distance reduces the number of spacial dimensions into one, it doesn't matter how many spacial dimensions you have so long as you can find a scalar distance between two points.

For a less abstract explanation think of a 2D simulation as a geometrical subset of a 3D simulation (that subset doesn't have to be axis aligned), a 2D simulation could exist within a plane at any orientation in a 3D simulation...

So a 2D simulation will behave in the same way for distance based rules as a 3D simulation restricted to a plane would. what you do with that scalar distance is up to you (inverse square law just happens to describe lots of nice things like gravity and magnetism etc), there are also other rules that describe other forces based upon distance such as inter molecular forces (known as potentials in molecular dynamics). However all of these rules are compatible with both 2D and 3D simulation.

about a month ago

Which desktop environment do you like the best?

tomxor OS X (611 comments)

It's never perfect but.. OS X's ui is probably about the most pleasant, polished and consistent thing out there right now, but i feel like once more projects like gnome 3 with a unified design approach emerge then various major linux distros and some BSDs i hope... Minix3 if i'm lucky... will become more palatable to a desktop user.

Gnome 3 is not for everyone because it's a relatively big and highly opinionated paradigm shift from the linux DEs before it... But as far as UI design goes they got some very important fundamental things right compared to the others before it:

Consistency and unified design approach and... Minimal configurability! I know a ton of linux users will disagree with me but they aren't UI designers... the responsibility of finding the optimal possible UI layout is on the UI designer, NOT the user... if it makes you feel better you can look at this from the point of view of efficiency and not "design", UI design shouldn't be about making pretty interfaces, it should be about making efficient interfaces, the beauty of the interface should emerge from the consistently and thoughtfully chosen functionality.

If the user has to spend hours formulating the optimal UI layout for their "workflow" then the functionality is too fragmented, as a result the workflow turns into a massive combinatorial mess and the UI has no chance of being concise thoughtful and usable. Gnome 3 got this right in concept... i wish many app UI designers also understood this.

about 2 months ago

Which desktop environment do you like the best?

tomxor Re: OS X History (611 comments)

In that it is like UNIX (from which it actually does descend, Darwin is actually an implementation of Mach)

I don't want to join in the argument of how to pronounce an ambiguous acronym. Just popping my head in and doing my usual historical correction here...

Darwin is not a descendent of UNIX. However it could be called a descendent (mainly) of FreeBSD + Mach. The difference being that FreeBSD and co are all derived from 4.4BSD-Lite which contains no proprietary AT&T code (UNIX). UNIX on the other hand contains plenty of code from the various BSDs (note the direction of code inheritance).

Darwin is however POSIX compliant meaning that it can use the UNIX trademark. All that means is it complies to the spec, not that it shares code with UNIX the OS... so the argument of the relationship between the use of X and the UNIX name is valid.

about 2 months ago

Ex-Microsoft Employee Arrested For Leaking Windows 8

tomxor Apple vs Tree? (197 comments)

It's not pedantic there's a huge difference... take your ignorance and leave.

about 4 months ago

UK Government Wants "Unsavory" Web Content To Be Removed

tomxor Some sort of weird catch 22 (250 comments)

But the asshat who understands the internet enough not to attempt to sensor it will get my vote. Let the race of the asshats commence.

about 4 months ago

Crowdsourcing Confirms: Websites Inaccessible on Comcast

tomxor Old DNS cache? (349 comments)

if you do a compare between two DNS servers then you are bound to also come up with differences that show how outdated one server is compared to the other... There has to be many new domains registered / re-registered and associated / re-accociated with a new IP every minute, if you run the script for long enough between two different snapshots you are bound to find one of these...

So my appropriately verbose question in response to your post is: how often do you think google and comcast update their DNS servers, and do you think they update at exactly the same time... I know ISPs like to filter stuff... just wondering if your method is sound.

about 4 months ago

Doctors Say New Pain Pill Is "Genuinely Frightening"

tomxor Bravo (294 comments)

Two opinions in 1 summary that wasn't painfully biased to read !

about 5 months ago

Silicon Brains That Think As Fast As a Fly Can Smell

tomxor Re:Great. Low-quality evolutionary "solutions" (84 comments)

Thanks for this, interesting. +

Perhaps the argument of the effectiveness of evolutionary processes as a design tool revolves around the specificity of a problem (as gweihir points out below).

Maybe the more broad the problem the lower the potentials and greater the iterations needed to refine and vice versa.

about 6 months ago


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