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Comment Trying to create gatekeepers and failing (Score 1) 300

It's been interesting over the years watching the industry trying to establish qualifications and standards, and seeing them look very silly because technology advances overtake the rules that used to provide the basis for those rules. For example once upon a time there were very separate categories of programmers and systems designers. This was because programming screens and reports took a LONG time - so the designer drew pictures of what the screen or report should look like and left the programmer to produce them over the next month. These days that sort of thing takes minutes, so there's no point in separating the roles. Of course this does mean that unsociable geeks get to be expected to interact with clients - which may not be the best experience for either side; be nice to your uber-geek - they get you out of holes...

Comment A spectrum not binary (Score 1) 300

Yes, there are a few programmers who teach themselves. But for the most part I suspect it's like most skills - we develop as we go along, absorb good and bad habits. Enabling a few more to engage with being a programmer to the point where it's conceivable must be a good thing. We need 'ordinary' programmers, as well as the hobbyists who taught themselves and are self starters.

Comment Catch the rounded ones early (Score 5, Interesting) 300

He's right that we need rounded people as programmers - but we are more likely to get them if the possibility of being a programmer is accessible to a wider range of people than at present. That's the virtue of this approach; it opens the prospect of programming as a career to a wider range beyond us geeks and nerds!

On the other hand it may make us unemployable as ordinary people nick our jobs...

Comment Indeed - WHY do we need a space station? (Score 3, Insightful) 211

At the time it was being proposed, there was a lot of doubt about its value, and it hasn't done much of value except look pretty and produce some fun pictures. The research would almost certainly have been done FAR cheaper on unattended satellites. The main motivation was political.

Of course if the Chinese threaten to launch one on their own, then Congress will suddenly find the money - but probably by raiding lots of other Science budgets. This probably would not be a good thing...

Comment There's only a return on bright kids (Score 1) 956

And it's better to keep the proles stupid, because otherwise they might work out how to challenge the elite. So whilst good schools in good areas may be useful, it's better not to bother too hard. And of course it's cheaper to import PhDs from India than train them ourselves...

Comment Good point about asymetric war (Score 1) 403

However the use of it has burgeoned since WWII, and it's become more clearly used as a means for one state to put pressure on another whilst retaining plausible deniability. The pattern of the past didn't make that so attractive because if the neighbouring state was sponsoring a covert war against you, you'd just attack them. These days that option is no longer open in most circumstances; the aftermath of 9/11 being a relatively unique counterexample.

My computer can beat up your computer. - Karl Lehenbauer