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Comment: Re:Won't work (Score 1) 698

What's more, it shouldn't work. When people submit WtP petitions demanding that the federal government research this or spend more/less on that or provide some additional service or whatever, it's fairly harmless. Even if the petition somehow miraculously causes real action, it's just government spinning its wheels and spending money.

When you start using petitions to bypass due process in the judicial system, you open the door to mob rule. Don't like someone? Start a petition to have them prosecuted. With a population the size of the US, it won't take any effort at all to round up enough participants who share your dislike of that person, or just follow the crowd, or do it for the lulz.

I detest CoS and agree that they have abused their "religious" exemption in horrific ways. But I can't get behind any crowdsourced efforts to take them down.

First, they came for the Scientologists...

Comment: Re:Advanced is good enough (Score 1) 220

by Deep Esophagus (#49420333) Attached to: How would you rate your programming skills?

I went 15+ years without learning SQL because Clipper was my bread and butter from 1986 to 2010. The first time I saw SQL, I wondered why on earth anyone thought it was any use... dBase and its derivatives seemed so much more robust. I still like the way Clipper et al operate on a single record at a time and manipulating the current-record pointer is so easy, but I've come to grudgingly accept that SQL's recordset results of a query are useful too. It's all part of my extremely belated growth from procedural to object-oriented mindset.

And have I said "get off my lawn" lately? Get off my lawn.

Comment: Re:Advanced is good enough (Score 5, Informative) 220

by Deep Esophagus (#49400943) Attached to: How would you rate your programming skills?

I was *the* expert at my company for our original products -- standalone database applications developed in the days of MSDOS. Although I was second-generation (apart from a smaller application I wrote myself), the original developers had long since moved on and for 15 years I held court. I knew every source file and every bug by name; I could crank out modifications at a moment's notice; I was sole technical support for the final 5 years of the products' existence.

Suddenly management realized that we didn't have enough customers on the legacy products to need me doing a combination code maintenance / support any more, and there was a scramble to find a new spot for me.

My big mistake was not staying current in the technology. Suddenly it was 2010 and I still knew only the most rudimentary basics of HTML, CSS, VB, and SQL. The only thing that saved me was the goodwill I had built up over the previous 18 years; various managers were patient with me while I scrambled to learn JavaScript, ASP.NET, and jQuery.

After four years with those platforms (and buffing up my SQL skills) I'm back to the point that can at least consider myself "intermediate"... and the playing field is changing again. We're moving away from JavaScript/jQuery and into JavaScript/Angular on the front end and C# on the back. Not to mention a side helping of vCloud, Attunity for SQL Server, and TFS 2013. Once again I'm a complete novice, struggling to learn stuff that the newcomers already knew before they were hired.

Look upon me with horror and beware, kids: Don't wait for your job description to change before you start learning new technology. Dive into it NOW, so you'll be ready when your current skill set is obsolete.

Comment: Email lets you organize your thoughts (Score 5, Insightful) 115

by Deep Esophagus (#49196251) Attached to: Preferred way to communicate with co-workers?

Face-to-face meetings may be more efficient for people who are aural learners, but not everyone can send, receive, and retain information that way. Personal discussions also tend to drift off-topic, so they waste as much time as they save, and of course they're not an option if the participants aren't all physically in the same office.

So... it's email for me. I have time to organize my thoughts, catch and edit mistakes, and keep an electronic trail to refer back to later when I can't recall exactly what was said.

Comment: Re:Biased Institutions FTW (Score 1) 784

That "first errand" is pretty much how I handled parenting, without the involvement of school/police/whatever supervision. I would lurk in the background while my kids went on their quasi-independent journeys of discovery, gradually increasing the radius of their area of autonomy proportional to their age and ability.

The other determining factor was indeed specific location. In our quiet suburb north of Houston, I didn't have a problem with my daughter playing unattended near the house for short periods. In a neighborhood in north Dallas with a MUCH higher crime rate, greater population density, and nearby high-traffic roads... we didn't even let her go to the mailbox in front of the house without a parent within arm's reach, and by then she was 8.

A later move to Cheyenne, Wyoming gave them nearly unlimited freedom. Our son would walk a mile or two from our house to the nearest school playground by the time he was 10, and 13-year-old daughter had no problem walking a couple of miles through the middle of town to get from a friend's house to the library.

Last time we visited Dallas, our vehicle broke down and I had to walk to a convenience store to get transmission fluid. My son - by then 15 - came with me, and with his physical training from karate and football I was glad to have him along to protect me.

Comment: Re:Just what's needed! (Score 2) 138

by Deep Esophagus (#48762253) Attached to: Connected Gun Lets Anyone Watch What Or Who You Are Shooting

You know, I'm a bit right-of-center on gun issues (which means that in most conversations I manage to piss off both my more conservative and more liberal friends, often with the same statement). I have no problem with widespread gun ownership and use of guns for personal self-defense.

But this... holy mother of Charles Whitman, how can this not get into the wrong hands with tragic consequences? Random urban sniper sprees just got a whole lot worse.

Comment: Re:It is simple (Score 1) 755

by Deep Esophagus (#48704875) Attached to: Science Cannot Prove the Existence of God

I wish I could mod you beyond the +5 you already got; you summarized the problem perfectly.

It's called faith for a reason. Yes, I see God's work in everything from the dance of electrons (and smaller!) to the dance of galaxies, but I am quite aware that is a subjective interpretation of the same evidence that others see as obvious proof God does not exist.

"An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah."

I am always embarrassed when scientists who are Christians claim that this or that archaeological or biological feature proves the existence of God, or young-earth creation, or whatever. There's so much confirmation bias it's a wonder any actual science ever gets done. We would achieve more good if we stop indulging in flawed arguments and simply let folks see God in the way we behave (hint: all you need is love).

Comment: Re:Kind of disappointed in him. (Score 2) 681

by Deep Esophagus (#48690081) Attached to: Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains His Christmas Tweet

I'm a conservative [read: slightly on the conservative side of dead center, with the added bonus of holding views that piss off my friends on both sides of the aisle] evangelical Christian, and I didn't see anything at all offensive about his posts. I've forwarded a couple of them on to my Christian and non-Christian friends. Really, I think this whole thing is an attempt by both Tyson and folks who make a career out of hating him to get media attention.

Comment: Re:Did he.. (Score 1) 65

by Deep Esophagus (#48684407) Attached to: White House Touts Obama's 1-Liner as 2014 Tech Highlight

That's my whole problem with the "hour of code": It's a symbolic gesture. At no point do the students ever actually write code; they just drag command blocks into place, all the while being told what to drag and where to place it. Even if they use the "View code" button, they only see the LOGO-like commands without any of the program structure around it. When my daughter was 10, she was writing graphic games of her own design in QuickBASIC. Kids are capable of so much more than this walled garden assumes.

I wouldn't object so much if this exercise were just the introductory step ("Now that you've seen how the command blocks create actual programming instructions, let's learn about conditional branching!")

Comment: Re:Is it a Node.js replacement? (Score 3, Insightful) 194

by Deep Esophagus (#48676255) Attached to: MIT Unifies Web Development In Single, Speedy New Language

Hearing a disturbance, the master programmer went into the novice's cubicle.

"Curse these personal computers!" cried the novice in anger, "To make them do anything I must use three or even four editing programs. Sometimes I get so confused that I erase entire files. This is truly intolerable!"

The master programmer stared at the novice. "And what would you do to remedy this state of affairs?" he asked.

The novice thought for a moment. "I will design a new editing program," he said, "a program that will replace all these others."

Suddenly the master struck the novice on the side of his head. It was not a heavy blow, but the novice was nonetheless surprised. "What did you do that for?" exclaimed the novice.

"I have no wish to learn another editing program," said the master.

And suddenly the novice was enlightened.

This lesson from The Zen of Programming is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago.

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354

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