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Comment: Re:The BORG! (Score 1) 266

by DG (#48860983) Attached to: Best Cube?

I'm in a military.

Starfleet - especially the Starfleet of ST2 - is *unquestionably* a military.

Gene said a lot of things, but trek grew well beyond his initial creation and took on a life of its own. You can't argue using dogma.

Comment: Re:instant disqualification (Score 1) 648

by DG (#48860953) Attached to: Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

Commodore BASIC, Turbo Pascal, M6800 Assembly (wonderful!), 8088 Assembly (horrible!), C, SQL, M68k Assembly, AREXX, perl, sh, Javascript, Java, php. I've dabbled in others (I can crank out a VB macro if need be), but those are my core fluencies.

The assembly was very useful in learning how the CPU actually works, and proved very useful for understanding industrial/microcontroller stuff later on, but with CPUs these days being vastly more complex than an 8088 or an M6800, I don't know if it could be dumbed down enough. Perhaps on a virtual machine or something?

Turbo Pascal was an absolutely brilliant language to learn on, and it is a shame Pascal seems to have fallen out of favour. It was powerful enough to write workable programs on, but simple enough to keep a new student from wandering off the cliff edge.

If I was teaching, I'd use perl:

- perl supports multiple syntaxes so you can teach the simple stuff in a straightforward manner
- The fact that it identifies variables and in which context they are being used is a brilliant way to help students separate out what bits are variables/arguments and what bits are code
- The C and sh bits are gateways into C and sh - "C lite"
- You can do some really powerful and *useful* programs in perl, which teaches that programming isn't just the creation of monolithic apps, but a *process* that can be used to solve a single specific problem.
- perl has native regular expressions, and teaching pattern matching opens up a whole new world of problem solving techniques

I can see homework like "Take the provided text file, and write a program that takes it as input and prints out the sentence that has the most vowels in it" or "Write a program that prints a list of the songs in your music library, ordered by date of album release". These programs are easy to write in perl, fun, challenging, and *useful*.

Comment: Re:WMDs? Chemical weapons? Wait, what? (Score 2) 376

by DG (#48158663) Attached to: Pentagon Reportedly Hushed Up Chemical Weapons Finds In Iraq

I doubt I'll have much success in this, but I've tilted and windmills before:

Chemical Weapons are indeed "Weapons of Mass Destruction" - and the key characteristic that makes them so is *indescrimination*.

A straight-up HE bomb (or even a pie-in-the-sky KE weapon) has a known blast radius around its intended target. Pick target, apply Circular Error Probable, apply blast radius, and you now have a circle that pretty accurately defines the amount of damage that weapon will do.

With a Chemical, Nuclear, or Biological weapon, that calculation no longer applies. With each, you get a cloud of contamination whose extent and direction you cannot predict, and - as the contamination is persistant to some degree - you cannot predict the number of unintended exposures to weapon effects after the fact.

A single machine gun, or even a knife, given enough persistance and patience, can indeed kill as many people as any CBRN strike. But unlike the CBRN strike, each person killed will have been done so purpously and with intent - and in the occasion of unintended casualties, those numbers will be small. Not so with a CBRN strike on a military target outside a city, when the wind changes and accidentally contaminates a major populated area..

It is that capability to expose large numbers of non-combatants to weapons effects *indescriminately* from actual combatants that makes these "WMDs"

Comment: Re:Deleted (Score 1) 108

by DG (#47349357) Attached to: US National Archives Will Upload All Its Holdings To Wikipedia

Indeed.

Print encyclopedias had to be picky about editing, because even edited down they were still 100lbs and took up feet of shelf space.

A digital encyclopedia has no such constraints. It can be a repository for everything, at no cost.

The "not notable" constraint is totally artificial and serves only as an outlet for the petty-minded to exert some small degree of power.

DG

Comment: Re:Deleted (Score 5, Interesting) 108

by DG (#47347741) Attached to: US National Archives Will Upload All Its Holdings To Wikipedia

Where Wikipedia fails HARD though is the article deletion process.

There are people out there who get a weird thrill from deleting articles.

An article that has been in place for *10 years* can be snuffed out just because a motivated moderator decides it isn't "notable" and sets up a "speedy delete".

Notice 6 months after the fact, try and put it back, and the whole friggin' WORLD descends on you.

Wikipedia is ruled by a group of petty, self-nominated bureaucrats. And the system - as horribly broken as it is - cannot be reformed, because there are too many vested interests who want to see it STAY broken.

 

Comment: Re:Deleted (Score 1) 108

by DG (#47347715) Attached to: US National Archives Will Upload All Its Holdings To Wikipedia

Let me guess, you're a Wikipedia moderator, right?

It continually amazes me how, in a world where storage is effectively free, where there is literally no cost to hosting articles, that there exist people who seek to suppress knowledge because it doesn't meet their arbitrary standard of "notable".

Give a man the power to say "no", and he says "no" - a lot.

DG

Comment: Re: I'm sorry, could you repeat the question? (Score 1) 76

by DG (#47274285) Attached to: Amazon's Android Appstore Coming To BlackBerry

When I lived in Toronto, about a year ago, I had to look hard to find anyone using an Apple or Android phone.

It was all BlackBerry - on the subway, in Starbucks, on the street - BB ruled the roost.

And the BB10 phones are *amazing*. The UI is bar none the best designed for a phone I've ever encountered.

Forty two.

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