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

by Beetle B. (#48102691) Attached to: Goodbye, World? 5 Languages That Might Not Be Long For This World

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

by Beetle B. (#46803055) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Professional Journaling/Notes Software?

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.

Education

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

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-the-facts-mam dept.
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

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

by Beetle B. (#43318739) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Archive and Access Ancient Emails?

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

by Beetle B. (#43263043) Attached to: 2012 Free Software Award Winners Announced

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

by Beetle B. (#43191347) Attached to: Why Trolls Win With Toxic Comments

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

by Beetle B. (#43171309) Attached to: What's the Best RSS Reader Not Named Google Reader?

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.

Comment: Re:Holy slanted summary, Batman! (Score 1) 476

by Beetle B. (#42379317) Attached to: GNU Grep and Sed Maintainer Quits: RMS and FSF Harming GNU Project

The posting is NOT a "scathing rant", it's a pretty clear, calm and well-reasoned explanation as to issues that the author sees with GNU and GNU software development. There's no flamebait, no ranting, no name-calling.

1. It is scathing.

2. The person who wrote it describes it as a rant (see the subject line).

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