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Comment: A virtuous Perl programmer (Score 5, Insightful) 192

by Chelloveck (#47333533) Attached to: An Army Medal For Coding In Perl

Sounds like someone who embodies the Three Virtues of a programmer: Laziness, Impatience, and Hubris. Well done!

I'm always amazed at what non-programmers are impressed by. Code up some major application, and... Why doesn't it have this feature? Why does it have that workflow? What kind of colorblind dyslexic idiot designed this UI? But whip up a simple script to automate some repetitive, routine task and you're a genius!

Comment: Re:Evolution isn't science (Score 1) 649

by Chelloveck (#47273359) Attached to: Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools
You asked for citations, he produced some. If you want an intellectually honest debate the burden is now on you to show why those citations are inaccurate. You're not allowed to simply assert "lies and more lies!" unless you want to grant him the same tactic to dismiss your arguments. Point to the creationist.

Comment: Re:What about flat cards? (Score 1) 142

A lot of {regional} food isn't real {regional} food. It's {localized} {regional} food.

You can fill in {regional} with any non-local region. In the US you can say it for Mexican, Thai, Italian, German, Polish... In the northern US you can say it for Southern food, and so on. It's kind of a variant of the "no true Scotsman" argument. No true Chinese person would cook like they do at PF Changs, therefore PF Changs is not true Chinese.

Comment: Re:Yawn (Score 1) 372

Because free speech. Which is just a convenient flag-waving way to say that the definition benefits the people who write the laws defining such matters. Politicians benefit from political think tanks being classified as charities, so... Free speech! It's the same reason that capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than other income. Oh, sure, on the surface of it there's some ideological veneer of doing it to promote market liquidity, job creation, and so forth, but in reality it's because the people writing the tax laws tend to be wealthy and directly benefit from the law being that way.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 2) 309

by Chelloveck (#47222029) Attached to: Google Engineer: We Need More Web Programming Languages

Genuine question, here, since I've never done any web dev. Why not write libraries in an existing language that spit out HTML/Javascript/PHP/whatever? Why do we need a new language to do this?

On the server side it's already pretty easy to use whatever language you want. There's the CGI protocol that gives a well defined interface between the server and any arbitrary program running as its own process. Most servers also have a way to run code in written various languages directly without the overhead of spawning a new process to do it.

On the browser side you have Javascript and... Well, that's about it really, unless you want to rely on browser plugins. Some browsers on some platforms can handle other scripting languages, but they tend to be vendor-specific like VBScript. If you load a browser plugin you can do anything you want, but it's not going to be all that portable. And, as we've seen with Flash and Java, they can open up new and interesting security holes.

Javascript itself is kind of a mess. It's inconsistent and has a lot of pitfalls that can trip up the unwary. I don't think we need more languages necessarily, but we could certainly use one good language. Of course, you'll never get developers to agree on what that good language is, and by the time it makes its way through the standards committee it's going to look an awful lot like Javascript. The big problem with defining a new language is that it needs to be in all the browsers before it's useful to developers. Developers won't adopt a language that's not widely deployed in browsers, and browser vendors won't bother to implement a language unless there is a critical mass of developers for it. So at this point we're pretty much stuck with Javascript.

Microsoft actually had a good idea at one time, which was to define an interface between the browser and an arbitrary external scripting language. You could (and probably still can) write Perl or Python code and execute it within Internet Explorer just like Javascript or VBScript. Of course that required the user to install the particular language you wanted, and calling out to an arbitrary external language opened up a ton of security holes. It wasn't very useful for web-based scripting. It was pretty good if you wanted an easy way to add a GUI to a local script, though. I used it to write a few quick-and-dirty prototype apps in Perl with an HTML GUI about 10 years ago. In fact it was good enough that I had a hell of a time convincing our sales guys that it was not a finished product they could sell.

Comment: Re:Democrats voted (Score 1) 932

by Chelloveck (#47217325) Attached to: House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

Correct. Allowing outsiders to inject themselves as spoilers into an internal race isn't fair. This is why party registration and closed primaries make sense. That's at least ore fair than doing the entire nomination via convention and forgoing primaries all together.

Agreed that outsiders as spoilers is no fair, and that closed primaries make sense. But I disagree that primaries (at least, publicly funded primaries) are better than private selection within the parties. As you said, it's an internal race. The party needs to pick the candidate that best represents them. If they want to do it in a secret smoke-filled room, let them.

Hey, if the parties want to organize and fund the primary elections on their own, great! More power to them! I'm just saying that public funds should not be allocated for something that's really the internal business of a private organization. And the big two parties should absolutely not have a government-supported primary mechanism available to them when other parties do not.

Comment: Re:I WANT BUTTONS (Score 1) 148

No, a touchscreen with tactile feedback wouldn't be very useful in this application. Ideally you want to operate the controls without taking your eyes off the road. To do that you need controls which don't move around or change function. The volume control, for instance, should always be available and should never change its position on the dashboard. It should never be dual-purposed; ie., a volume control in radio mode but a scroll control for selecting an MP3 from a directory. A dynamic tactile touchscreen doesn't help in that situation.

My current vehicle doesn't have a touchscreen but does have a "smart" entertainment system. It has physical buttons but (with the sole exception of volume/power, thankfully) their functions are all dependent on what mode the system is in. And there's no way to determine the current mode or the current meanings of the buttons without looking at the display. Even simple things like balance/fade/eq are buried in the modal menu system. Hard as hell to operate when you're driving.

Comment: Re:Who benefits? (Score 1) 139

by Chelloveck (#47185977) Attached to: Parents Mobilize Against States' Student Data Mining
I came here to say just this. You've saved me a lot of typing. :-) I want to add that there's a trend towards "evidence-based medicine" right now. You know, actually studying the effects of treatment to see that it's doing what it's intended to do. Seems obvious, right? Hopefully what this article describes is a step towards evidence-based education. Done correctly (aye, there's the rub) with proper anonymization this sort of information could be hugely beneficial to future students.

Comment: Circular logic is circular. (Score 1) 325

by Chelloveck (#47182425) Attached to: Fixing the Humanities Ph.D.

To summarize the summary, there are too few tenure-track professorial positions in the Humanities for most of the graduates to get a tenure-track position. This is because the demand for Humanities professors is down, because fewer people are going into Humanities, because it's too "weird" and takes too long to get a degree. So the proposal is to reduce the requirements for a degree, thus increasing enrollment and increasing the demand for professors.

Left unstated is the fact that having more Humanities students will also increase the supply of Doctors of Humanities, who will need jobs, so we'll need even more students to soak up an even greater excess of professors. And so on, ad infinitum. (That's Latin. I'm told Humanities profs like Latin phrases.)

Somebody remind me again, why do we even want the number of Humanities graduates that we already have?

Prof: So the American government went to IBM to come up with a data encryption standard and they came up with ... Student: EBCDIC!"