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Comment: Re:Computers are making everyone's life easier (Score 3, Interesting) 212

by Catiline (#48358141) Attached to: New Book Argues Automation Is Making Software Developers Less Capable
The analogy I like to use when discussing the Art vs. Engineering paradigm in programming is architecture (the wood & steel building sort, not hardware chip instructions) design. Every architect, whether building a private home or an office complex, needs to know certain fundamental facts about the materials they use (load bearing capacity, for instance) and the choice of what materials are used is (typically) dictated by the intended purpose of a building. Brick and wood framing is pretty universal, but you don't generally see homes being built out of little more than tin siding and steel frames like factory warehouses, or giant glass walls like skyscrapers.

That part -- mating the materials with the intended purpose -- is the "art" in architecture. The "art" in programming (aside from some limited domains like UX or AI) is less immediately describable except by effect (e.g. "How quickly do new team members get up to speed?") but should be no less important to any project manager. I don't really think that programming has been around long enough for us to have our Frank Lloyd Wright moment, but that is no reason to ignore the "intangibles" and immeasurable aspects to quality code.

Comment: Re:Wealth Inequality in America (Score 1) 1040

by Catiline (#47158709) Attached to: Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage
Please don't confuse "wealth" (i.e. cars, homes, and other assets) with "income" (i.e. wages and salaries). In fact, your video even illustrates this about 4:40 in: the top "1 percent" have 40% of the wealth and 24% of the income. Hell, even if the video producer hadn't done so, there's a reasonable shot the surveyed individuals did.

Or, if you'd prefer a video response, I found this one: "I'll just leave this here" indeed.

Comment: Re:Can't Tell Them Apart (Score 1) 466

That sounds solid for a "take home" test, but I wouldn't trust that for an interview (it's too easy to get an answer from some website instead of doing the work), and as others have stated before me it seems far too hard for use in a live code exercise. (I consider myself quite the math geek, but never bothered to memorizing formulas for pi.) Personally, I've always preferred some variation on the simpler "fizzbuzz" test, like asking candidates to write the C library strcpy function, or a function to calculate m-of-n boolean logic (given n logic tests, write a function that returns true when at least m items are true). These tests actually allow you to check a candidate for several desired attributes at once:
  • Ability to read and follow a specification. For instance, for "fizzbuzz" will the candidate remember to print the numbers which fail both modulo tests, and not print the number when one of these test succeeds?
  • Familiarity with language of choice/test. The second example, as given, would require one to cold-recall the order of arguments (and return value) to a very common library function; properly coding the boolean logic example requires writing a variadic function.
  • Coding practices and problem solving skills. A test with multiple solutions (or at least, seeming to support multiple solutions) allows you to see the candidate's thought process.

As the parent poster stated: you probably can pass this sort of test and only be a 40%-skill programmer, and many 90%-skill programmers would fail at least one of the above tests. However, the how and why candidates 'fail' (did you ask for clarification, or just rush in? Did you mis-read the requirements, or not think the problem through? Does your code contain a fencepost error?) is just as revealing of desired skill set as any 'success'.

Comment: Re:BTC (Score 2) 548

by Catiline (#46906889) Attached to: Reason Suggests DoJ Closing Porn Stars' Bank Accounts
While that is the route the DoJ is currently pursuing, I'm pretty sure that they will find it rather impotent:

KYC rules require money-related services to be able to identify all their customers, and self report ‘suspicious activity’ that can be signs of anything from money laundering to terrorist financing. In the traditional financial sector, this makes money laundering much more difficult (although nowhere near impossible). This is because, in order to interact with the modern financial system and transmit money electronically, you need to use a third-party service such as a bank, which are easy points of regulation.

However, with bitcoin it’s an entirely different story. No one needs a third-party service to own, spend, or send bitcoins anywhere in the world. All that is needed is an open-source wallet, of which there are plenty available to download. ... The real problem is whether governments will accept this new reality and plan appropriately, or continue to fight it. Regulatory bodies can’t fit bitcoin into current regulatory framework. The two are simply not compatible, and that has nothing to do with any libertarian sentiments in the community. It’s fact.

The degree of oversight government now has in the traditional payments arena is impossible to replicate with bitcoin...

Source: Why Know-Your-Customer rules won't work with Bitcoin

So unless the DoJ wants to argue that is a "financial service" company merely for accepting Bitcoin, or that the businesses which do convert Bitcoin into traditional currency need to implement some sort of "Know Your Customer's Customers" third party regulation, the tightening of existing regulation will have virtually zero effect.

Comment: Re:It's been politicized (Score 1) 869

I'm well aware of the problem.

Another indicator of public understanding of science focuses on understanding of how [scientists] generate and assess scientific evidence, rather than knowledge of particular facts. Past NSF surveys have used questions on three general topics—probability, experimental design, and the scientific method—to assess trends in Americans' understanding of the process of scientific inquiry.
Understanding of what it means to study something scientifically is considerably lower, at 18% in 2010. Correct responses on this question are lower, in part, because the task of expressing a concept in one's own words is more difficult than recognizing a correct response to a multiple-choice style close-ended survey question.

This is still much higher than I would expect based on occupation, since STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] fields account for only 6% of the workforce. However, even though, as you say, "[m]ost people are not in a position to understand themselves and their own thinking", this is not insurmountable. Surveys similar to the NSF one I linked shows that over the past 25 years, the literacy rate has doubled (from 10% in 1988); clearly, the public can learn to understand rational, scientific methods.

Even if this conclusion is wrong, what do you think the proper method is to deal with the irrational nature of humans? Set up some sort of inner cabal of "great minds" to run the world (ignoring the fact they're just as human, therefore just as irrational, as anyone else)? Try to find some inhuman ("angelic") agent to run the world, and hope their goals remain humanly comprehensible? Or just give up and go back to the caves?

Comment: Re:It's been politicized (Score 1) 869

"Both sides" do deserve at least some consideration for one reason and one reason only: the strength of a scientific theory is not measured solely by how it explains current facts, but also in how well it withstands challenges. Whenever researchers or supporters of anthropogenic climate unilaterally silence critics, they are simultaneously weakening the process of science. Al Gore did so in stating that "There is no more debate among scientists" when talking up An Inconvenient Truth; however, the truly inconvenient fact is that the working process of science is just such debates. This idea was expressed very clearly in this description of the scientific method by Richard Feynman:

"Now you see, of course, that with this method we can disprove any definite theory. We have a real guess, with which we can compute consequences, which could be compared to experiments; and in principle we can get rid of any wrong theory. You can always prove any definite theory wrong. Notice, however, that we never prove it right. Suppose that you invent a good guess, calculate the consequences, and find that the consequences agree with experiment. The theory is then right?

"No; it is simply not proven wrong. Because, in the future, there could be a wider range of experiments or you could compute a wider range of consequences and you may discover that some of those are wrong. That's why laws like Newton's laws for the motion of planets last for such a long time; he guessed the law of gravitation and calculated all the kinds of consequences for the solar system and so on, compared them to experimental observation and it took several hundred years for the slight error in the motions of Mercury to develop. During all that time, the theory had been failed to be proven wrong and could be taken to be temporarily right. It can never be proved right, because tomorrow's experiment may succeed in proving what you thought was right, wrong."

The only way that global warming, as a scientific theory, will ever be permanently "settled" is if it is proven wrong. When the challengers are just repeating the same bullshit arguments over and over (as with the religious teleological arguments presented anew under the names of "creation science" and "intelligent design") winning the debate may be quick and painless, but nevertheless the proper working of the scientific method is the remorseless, unceasing challenge of the orthodoxy with new ideas and measurements.

Comment: Re:Discrimination of girls is bad and unethical (Score 1) 673

by Catiline (#46715601) Attached to: Google: Teach Girls Coding, Get $2,500; Teach Boys, Get $0
It's not really real discrimination; as everybody has heard thousands of times since being a small child: "Two wrongs make a right!" This is just Google stepping beyond their "Don't be evil" corporate motto and doing something right in the world!

(Do I really need to put my </sarcasm> tag here?)

Comment: Re:Good luck with all the coming ads (Score 1) 172

by Catiline (#46293547) Attached to: Google Fiber Pondering 9 New Metro Areas

That is because the rich are more dependent on government than the poor.

I guess that's why the wealthy elite exclusively send their kids to government schools, rely on police protection from rabid fans, and live on "government cheese", while the "poor, huddled masses" are scrimping so they can save enough to afford private tutors/ivy league colleges, bodyguard services, and 5-star chefs to cater in every meal?

Here's a hint: the elites have never needed "good" government--they can afford to pay twice (once for the public version, albeit not much with tax evasion, and once for the quality services). They want "good enough" -- as in, just good enough that the proles won't revolt or pursue alternatives.

Comment: Re:Two big sources (Score 2) 926

by Catiline (#45385717) Attached to: Where Does America's Fear Come From?

Well can you have an anti aircraft rocket then?

I would say the Constitution is unambiguously clear on this point: yes. When the government derives all power from "We, the people" [per the preamble] then whatever my government does, I also can do (because it was given the power to do so from me). Likewise, anything the people cannot do, they cannot authorize their government to do.

So unless you want to argue that the Army and Air Force have to give up all of their tanks, planes, and H-bombs because nobody has a right to such things, then the American population has an absolute right to buy them as individuals.

Comment: Re:C'mon people! Who has been telling the truth? (Score 1) 276

by Catiline (#45376001) Attached to: Snowden Used Social Engineering To Get Classified Documents

Personally, I think the crimes of Nixon (and cohorts) pale in comparison to the crimes committed by the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama administrations. Where are the impeachments?

Waiting on the American people to elect politicians who don't all dream of one day having their name added to that litany.

Comment: Re:world ramifications... (Score 1) 388

by Catiline (#45375983) Attached to: The NSA Is Looking For a Few Good Geeks

The US Constitution does not GIVE us rights. .... Just because the right of privacy is not mentioned is not to imply it does not exist and cannot be claimed.

Exactly so. The Ninth amendment is worded in such a way as to deliberately outline this fact: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

In any case, a strong argument could also be made that the fourth amendment's phrasing (" in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches...") is pretty much the textbook definition of "right to privacy".

Comment: Re:No so much (Score 1) 637

by Catiline (#44569093) Attached to: Medical Costs Bankrupt Patients; It's the Computer's Fault

Okay, let me try clarifying by presenting my conclusion first and giving the specific argument afterwards.

Are you absolutely certain that you have the right way of things? Are you 100% sure that your answer is the best possible answer, forever and ever, for all people, no exceptions? Is there any chance, no matter how remote, that this rule could actually cause harm -- not more harm than inaction, but any at all?Faced with a dilemma of where inaction causes great harm versus actions that cause small harm, human beings often choose inaction; the exceptions have significantly higher incidents of sociopathy and psycopathy ... are you so certain you can boldly proclaim, "Yes, even in a world where everyone acts like complete anti-social psychopaths, this action would still be correct"?

If any of this has given you have even the least smidgen of doubt—even just one tiny whisper of "well, but..."—then why are you willing to force suffering upon your fellow human beings?

With such absolutely certainty in your rightness, should I not take your belief seriously, but call you "arrogant" instead?

If somebody can't cover the costs of their treatment at the time they enter a hospital, they can seek assistance from a charitable organization (either specific to the nature of their care or a "general" community charity, like a church).

The hidden little gotcha of that particular argument is that there are organizations out there that will pull heinous shit like denying services to certain classes of people...

Are you certain that government cannot fall prone to any classist, racist, sexist, bigoted behavior? Are you so certain in the goodness of "Western" (European and the US) society that I can't provide multiple examples from those same governments (albeit far less extreme) within recent history? Are you so certain a central system is superior you would boldly proclaim "Yes, even if the government itself were to be racist, it would be the superior choice for all people"?

I'm not.

Answer the Second: <sarcasm seriousness=90%> I have no problems with turning away a patient from a hospital because they can't afford to pay. After all, they can always go to a charismatic/Pentecostal minister for miraculous healing, and they tend to charge far less less for their services. Heck, while we're at it let's also allow witch doctors, homeopathy, acupuncture, and every other "alternative medicine" practitioner to tend to medical care!</sarcasm>

If this is a '90% serious' answer, then you are a barbarian.

It's 90% serious because it's a pure expression of my argument—that absent absolute, crushing certainty in the correct behavior, freedom of choice is better than any mandate—presented in a tounge-in-cheek fashion.

And for that levity, I am called a "barbarian"?

In all seriousness: all "medicine" has started out as either "alternative medicine" or "experimental medicine". Are you so certain that the procedures in place are a perfect, immutable method of separating the healing methods from quackery that you're willing to force everyone to obey your preferences?

I'm not.

Do you believe that someone who has been mis-informed, or who remains willfully ignorant, should be forced to live according to "the right and proper nature of things", rather than allow them to chart their own course, even to the point that their incorrect beliefs will kill them?

Don't quit your day job, O Hippocratic Comedian.

Okay. I've presented this argument flatly, with the least humor possible. Is this more understandable?

Professional wrestling: ballet for the common man.