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Comment Re:Lies, damned lies, and statistics (Score 4, Insightful) 194

Only the hard sciences seem to have any real legitimacy and even then I wouldn't trust a biologist all that much.

I got started in life as an Engineer (3rd or 4th generation, as far as I can tell), and became a Biologist. One of the first things that shocked me is the notion of noise. In Electrical Engineering, noise is well-managed and understood. When you say you have a good fit to your data, it means errors of less than 1%. In Biology, there's so much noise and inherent variability that when you say you have a good fit, it means errors of less than 50%.

There are very few biological processes we understand well enough to say that we really, deeply understand them. Unlike, say, a transistor.

Comment Re:Oh no (Score 3, Insightful) 157

Well you CAN write maintainable code in perl, you just have to use some discipline. Turn "use strict;" on everywhere, break your project up into packages across functional lines and have unit tests on everything. You know, all that stuff that no companies ever do. Given the choice between having to maintain a perl project and a ruby one, I'd take the perl project every time. At least you'll have some chance that the developers wrote some decent code, if only in self defense since they usually end up maintaining it themselves for a few years.

Comment Re:XKCD time comic (Score 1) 105


Slightly over 3000 frames, quite a bit shy of the GIF artist's vision (if you'll allow that term), but orders of magnitude more interesting for being a movie to start with, and for being set during the flooding of the Mediterranean Basin, arguably another couple of orders of magnitude more creative.

Heck, Mandelbrot zooms are more interesting than a counter.

Comment Can't we do better? (Score 3, Insightful) 105

The Long Now is a far better project than a GIF with slowly increasing numbers. Heck, Arthur Ganson's "Machine with Concrete" is better, and covers the same idea.

If they had made the GIF a 1000 year movie of non-trivial content, then it might be far more interesting. But then, "The Clock" movie which covers 24 hours is brilliant and would be hard to surpass for density of ideas.

48M frames would be about 550 hours of footage at 24 frames per second. That's multiple lifetimes worth of output for a prolific movie maker. So it's unlikely that you could really produce that many frames -- even ones that aren't that different one from the next, as you would have in a normal movie.

How about something more tractable and interesting? How about "Swan Lake" at 1/100th speed (inspired by David Michalek's "Slow Dancing")? How about a basketball game at 1/100th speed? How about time-lapse of something even slower, like a simulation of geological weathering? And those are just off the top of my head. A sequence of numbers? To celebrate GIF? Can't we do better?

Comment Re:Article is a load of rubbish. (Score 1) 153

I certainly concur that the linked article is nothing more than FUD.

But I also suspect that the code in question is also not as nefarious as everyone makes it out to be. As you point out, there are many good reasons to be able to detect when a test is happening. As a good engineer, were I to write such code, I'd want to add a failsafe to ensure that the emissions devices didn't somehow get turned off. The test states that all must be turned on, so they damned well better get turned on.

if (EngineMode.Test) {
  for (i = 0; i LessThan Engine.EmissionsDevice.NumberInstalled; i++) {
    Engine.EmissionsDevice.Enumerated(i).Mode = Enabled;
  Engine.Throttle.Sensitivity = LowSensitivity;
  Engine.Performance = PrioritizeEfficiency;
  Brakes.TractionControl.Mode = Disabled; ... etc ... // OK, we're ready for the test!

Code like that alone cannot be considered evidence of a defeat device. Evidence of sound engineering, yes. For intent to defeat, there needs to be more.

Comment This Again? (Score 1) 309

I thought we put image formats to bed in the 90's. Hell, it feels like png is just barely starting to be used by reputable companies even though browsers have supported it for a while. It also seems like we still don't have a viable replacement for animated GIFs either, even though png was supposed to take care of that as well. I suppose even if this image format is wildly successful by those standards, I'll just about be ready to retire by the time we start seeing it in widespread use.

Comment Re:Thaty's the wat to do it ... (Score 1) 257

Yeah, that's a good point. I've met a couple of people who were apparently traumatized by canned peas growing up, at least one of them so severely that I thought he should seek therapy to address his food hang-ups. I've also met several people who were apparently traumatized by fish growing up. Again, at least one of them probably needed therapy for it. Given that we've been screwing up our kids to the point where they need therapy, we'd probably be better off if we just gave them all a brick and let them fend for themselves.

Comment Re: Gun-free zone? (Score 1) 1161

I am not "Rambo", and real life is NOT a movie.

It could be, though! Think of the possibilities! Give everyone and gun and let the games begin! After all, we must enjoy this sort of thing, or we'd have put a stop to it long before now. All I'm saying is that maybe we should just play the hand we're dealt!

Comment Re:TFA, TFS (Score 1) 323

The risk of them going out of business is very real.

I say this someone who has owned original Bugs, Rabbits (including a GTI!), and, after a long absence from VW-ownership currently own a 2009 Jetta that is not affected by the emission issues: it would be a far greater loss to society as a whole for VW to pay such a large fine that it goes out of business than for a compromise to be reached that allows it to continue to produce absolutely great gasoline-powered cars, and continue to contribute in a very positive way to Germany's economic engine.

Yes, VW likely did bad things. Were the cars in question really all that dirty compared to, say the VW diesel engines of two decades ago? Given how completely awesome the modern VWs are in every other respect, I have a hard time imagining that they are really all that dirty. If I owned an affected diesel, I certainly wouldn't expect compensation. VW makes fantastic cars. Punishing the company so deeply that we lose VW, and Audi, and Porsche to boot? To what end? Who is going to benefit, other than lawyers?

Strict enforcement of the US and EU laws in this case may not be in the best interests of (almost) anyone at all.

Comment Re:I'm curious (Score 1, Insightful) 206

He's basically just a pawn at this point. Putin keeps him around because it embarrasses the US Government. He'll probably find himself extradited in a heartbeat if Putin can get something valuable in trade. I'm also guessing he's not exactly a prisoner, but that he would find it to be very difficult to leave Russia if he wanted to. You know, pawn stuff.

Comment Re:Linux - forced updates?? (Score 1) 288

Yeah, that's true. Last year I was in a job that was maintaining some decades-old X11 apps. Shit honestly hasn't improved since when those apps were written. There are still half a dozen or so competing widget sets, all of which suck (Yes, Even Qt, although Qt sucks a good bit less than everything else I looked at.) If you're concerned about performance sending graphics across a network, there are two or three X11 extensions to do things like double buffering and pixmap caching. They mostly seem to be unmaintained and undocumented. And nearly everything is written in moldy old C.

And yes, I could start a widget set project or something to try to rectify the situation, and then we'd have one more competing widget set that probably sucks. The programming's really not that hard once you start learning your way around the various tools, but it is pretty tedious and writing even a widget set is a fairly large undertaking with no guarantee anything you do will ever be adopted by anyone.

A right is not what someone gives you; it's what no one can take from you. -- Ramsey Clark