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Comment Re:No one wants this (Score 2) 425 425

When you are so much further ahead of everyone around you, people can't fully appreciate how great you really are.....but if you are surrounded by stars and yet still shine far above all of them, you look that much more awesome. It's one of the reasons that I spend time with the noobs mentoring them.......also, if I mentor them, they'll be more apt to do things my way.

See this above?

This is an example of an asshole programmer.

Comment Re:The Curve on Academic Courses (Score 2) 425 425

On academic programming courses - of which I've taught on many - the grade distribution is definitely bimodal and there is a clear gap between those who can and those who can't.

I'm guessing those who can't will not go on to become professional programmers. If you look at active and professional programmers, is it still bimodal?

Comment Would it be any different in the US? (Score 1) 134 134

Let's say in the US we routinely had bombs blowing up by a nonidentifiable group, so we can't perform any real profiling.

Say 5000 people[1] were killed every year in the US for the last 15 years due to these hard-to-identify terrorists.

The public would scream for biometric everything.

[1] - Scaling to match the US population.

Comment Re:Demagoguery (Score 1) 740 740

Lots of people totally lost their shit over this despite the fact that HPV can cause cancer and the vaccine is effective and not just because of donations. The term parental choice was thrown around a lot.

While there were many things wrong about the whole HPV vaccine debate, one fact stood out. The maker, Gardasil, was charging so much for the vaccine that, had it been mandated, it would have been the first mandated vaccine in US history that was expected to cost the health care system more than had it not been mandated.

All other mandated vaccines actually save the health system money: Fewer people get sick, and the money is used treating other diseases.

The HPV vaccine cost so much it would actually take funds away from treating other diseases.

But everyone wants to pretend this was just about religious anti-vaccine nutjobs.

Comment Perl and VBA will live for a long while yet (Score 4, Informative) 547 547

I work in an engineering firm. There's so much legacy Perl out there that there'll be a need for it for at least another decade.

As for VB, it'll remain as long as Microsoft Office is used in companies. It's way too handy and there's no alternative.

Comment Another plu g for orgmode. (Score 1) 170 170

Orgmode is also the most useful note taking tool I've found. Of course, it helps if you're OK doing it in Emacs. I will point out, though, that many people learn Emacs simply so that they can use orgmode - it's that useful. If I had to guess, I would say that since 2008, more people learned Emacs to use org mode than for any other reason.


Why Are Some Hell-Bent On Teaching Intelligent Design? 1293 1293

Funksaw writes "Here's an op-ed by first-time politician, long-time Slashdotter Brian Boyko, where he talks about his experiences testifying at the Texas Board of Education in favor of having real science in science textbooks. But beyond that, he also tries to examine, philosophically, why there is such hardened resistance to the idea of evolution in Texas. From the article: '[W]hat is true is that evolution tests faith. The fact of evolution is incontrovertible and supported by mounds of empirical evidence. Faith, on the other hand, is fragile. It is supported only by the strength of human will. And this is where it gets tricky. Because to many believers, faith, not works, is the only guarantee that one can pass God's litmus test and gain access to His divine kingdom. To lose one's faith is to literally damn oneself. So tests to that faith must be avoided at all costs. Better to be a philosophical coward than a theological failure.'"

Comment Re:Real-world examples, shaky foundations (Score 2) 580 580

While you have a point, I'll make a counterpoint:

First, a lot of mathematics majors get a poor mathematics education when teachers teach to the demographics in these classes (which is mostly non-math majors). As a result, a number of mathematics professors have gotten irritated and they'll insist that their courses exist to serve the mathematics students, no matter how few, and if the engineers want something more applied and tied to reality, then the engineering department needs to step up and offer a course rather than leach off the math department at the expense of their students. Of course, department politics and funding come into play which is why they end up having to teach non-math majors.

You may be collateral damage in their battle, but as someone who's been on both the EE and the math side, I think they have a very valid point: Catering to outsiders is hurting their own math program (which ultimately affects the rankings of the math department, although most usually are not driven by that).

Second, if you plan to go to grad school, for many disciplines in EE and CS, you'll likely need all the theoretical stuff that linear algebra professor was trying to teach, and many grad schools will expect you to know it. In my experience, those who know that material coming in will ususally excel. Many EE/CS departments will try to teach the same material as part of some other course that may need it, but the students often don't learn it as well as if they had taken it from a proper math course.

And that's the other battle: Undergrad vs Grad school. In EE/CS, most undergrads do not plan on going to grad school, but the grad school folks are understandably upset that incoming students are ill prepared (which affects their rankings, and more importantly, the university's research). This being academia, the grad school advocates have more say then you'd perhaps like.

Comment Re:notmuch (Score 1) 282 282

I second notmuch. You don't have to use it as your mail reader - you can just use it for indexing and queries. It has Python bindings which makes it really nice. It can search by all the criteria listed except perhaps attachments (it does tag messages with attachments, but I'm not sure what types of searches the submitter wants to do with them). Date based searching is possible, but the syntax is a pain - a nicer way to specify dates has been on their TODO list forever.

At the moment it doesn't support mbox, and all my mail had been in that format. It was a pain to convert everything to maildir or a similar format it supported, but it was only a one time pain...

Comment ipython (Score 3, Insightful) 43 43

The Ipython notebook, although not an original idea (I think they were inspired by the Sage notebook), is just fantastic. I do a fair amount of exploratory analysis and it's so much better doing it in a notebook than in a standalone script - I get to see all the plots, and document as I go along. Most importantly, it lets me experiment with commands as one would in a regular interpreter shell, but without the clutter of all my faulty commands.

If anyone wants to help open source, I would strongly recommend helping improve ipython, scipy or matplotlib. Fernando Perez pointed out in a recent conference that while on the surface these all seem like excellent, well polished projects, if one looks at the committers, they'll find most commits are being done by 2-3 people (for each project). It's not healthy for it to depend on so few people. As a case in point, the main committer for matlplotlib passed away recently and everyone's nervous about its future.

Comment Why do they have comments on news sites? (Score 4, Insightful) 298 298

I've never come across a news site that allowed "open" comments not become dominated by their inaneness.

Why do news sites allow them? I suppose there may be a connection between allowing them and traffic (I really don't know) - but I see highly serious, respectable local news outlets that already have a strong base suddenly decide "Hey, everyone's doing it, why not us?"

In ye old days we had "Letters to the Editor". Open comments are not a viable replacement. The former were heavily moderated.

Comment How about one I can install on my webserver? (Score 1) 287 287

Since we're on the topic, does anyone know a good RSS reader that I can install on my own web server?

I currently use Gregarius but the project is no longer under development.

I don't want a desktop based one as I need to ensure it checks the feeds whether my computer is on or not. Also, there's nothing more convenient than simply clicking links within a browser.

If you think the system is working, ask someone who's waiting for a prompt.