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Comment: Re:Don't worry actors (Score 1) 144

by Dutch Gun (#49383699) Attached to: Why More 'Star Wars' Actors Don't Become Stars

I'm not sure if I agree with your reasoning that putting people in costumes means disdain for actors. That would mean indicting Peter Jackson for his work on Lord of the Rings, which put many people in costumes as well.

I think it's rather that Lucas communicated very poorly with them, as well as probably lacking empathy or understanding about what actors do and how they go about doing it. I get the feeling that Lucas just really isn't much of a people person, which possibly leads to problems when trying to direct actors or writing meaningful human drama.

Beside which, I'd take issue with the notion that a wonderful character can't be created without a human body or face being seen on screen. Would Darth Vader have been quite so memorable if his face hadn't been hidden behind that terrifying-looking mask? And consider how incredible a performance Anthony Daniels gave as C3P0 even while wearing a restrictive costume and a face that displayed no emotion at all. Chewbacca is a sidekick, yet is a beloved character even though he's never spoken a single intelligible line of dialogue and has no obvious human traits at all.

Even the world of CGI has seen breakout characters and performances, such as Andy Serkis's portrayal of Gollum in Lord of the Rings. His work was instrumental in helping filmmakers to understand that digital performance capture and voice work can be every bit as important as animation in helping to bring a CGI character to life.

Comment: Re:Don't worry actors (Score 4, Interesting) 144

by Dutch Gun (#49383109) Attached to: Why More 'Star Wars' Actors Don't Become Stars

Lucas was fantastic at world building, but absolutely horrible at directing actors, and even worse at writing emotionally engaging characters. He happened to luck out with Harrison Ford, who pretty much carried the weight of the series through his own gravitas and made everyone else look good as well. There were also other places he lucked out, like with Anthony Daniels. C3PO was originally envisioned as a smooth-talking, oily (not literally), used-car-salesman type character, but Daniels had an enormous influence on the character that he fundamentally changed the role.

If you listen to some "behind the scenes" from Star Wars, you'll hear the actors talking about how Lucas never really understood how to motivate or even talk to actors. He'd give them the lines, tell them where to stand, and just expect them to "do their thing". What's painfully obvious is that he couldn't really tell good dialogue from bad, or good character writing from bad. It's really too bad he didn't collaborate with and trust someone to override some of the worst aspects of the first trilogy - mainly the awkward love affair and the questionable motivations of Anakin. Critically, he ended up breaking that fundamental maxim of movies time after time in terms of character development: "Show, don't tell."

Comment: Re:A Corollary for Code (Score 1) 212

by Dutch Gun (#49382989) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

Yep, this is at the heart of the "write boring code" rule. This also includes extending and enhancing previously created functionality as well. It also leads to another consequence in my own code: You can typically measure the complexity of the code by looking at the ratio of code to comments.

In most cases, when the code starts getting really complex (sometimes it's impossible to avoid), I start writing paragraphs instead of single line comments. When you see multiple paragraphs, you know you're dealing with some really tricky code that I undoubtedly wished I could have drastically simplified, but failed to do so.

Comment: Re:Passport numbers (Score 1) 139

Oddly enough, I specifically typed "head of state / elected leader" because it was pointed out earlier that David Cameron is not the British head of state. I had intended that slash to mean OR, not AND. Anyhow, it seems to be the case that royal heads of state don't seem to use one as a rule. I suppose it would be considered undignified to show a little book with a picture that essentially says "Hi! I'm the King of Saudi Arabia". Similar to British passports, Saudi passports are (according to Wikipedia) issued in the name of the King, so naturally he wouldn't require one.

Here's another bit of trivia: As you might guess, POTUS doesn't have a normal passport like you or I probably have. He and all his immediate family have diplomatic passports, which they get to keep for life. I haven't found what having a diplomatic passport gets you (apparently it doesn't automatically confer diplomatic immunity). I suspect if nothing else, it will get you slightly better treatment at the borders - as in, "this is someone who knows someone, so I'd better treat them decently".

Comment: Re:software dev vs programmer (Score 3, Insightful) 139

by Dutch Gun (#49377101) Attached to: IT Jobs With the Best (and Worst) ROI

Sure, of course. It's why I used the qualifier "most" and "typically". And that's also why I mentioned that if the professions themselves aren't certified, then it may be the products themselves. I have no idea about the specifics of your industry, but I'd bet your company's products have to get certified by the FAA.

Comment: A Corollary for Code (Score 5, Insightful) 212

by Dutch Gun (#49376569) Attached to: Why You Should Choose Boring Technology

A personal corollary for code related to this theme is to always try to make the code I write as "boring" as possible. I've found that programmers often get themselves in trouble by trying to be "clever", which often makes for horribly unintuitive or unnecessarily complex systems. I've heard people asking about how to perform crazy language tricks and I nearly always think to myself "My God, why in the hell would you even *think* about doing something like that?" Such things nearly always point to very fundamental flaws elsewhere.

Comment: Re:software dev vs programmer (Score 3, Informative) 139

by Dutch Gun (#49376489) Attached to: IT Jobs With the Best (and Worst) ROI

In the US, railroad engineers are required to be state certified and re-certified every two to three years. How about civil engineers? Oh yeah, them too. Mechanical engineers? To become a Professional Engineer in the US, state certification is required. As for electrical engineers, I don't think they have any state licensing requirements, but for all practical purposes, a four-year degree (a state-certified document as well) is typically required for employment.

This shouldn't be surprising to you. Any profession that could adversely affect the safety or lives of the public if mistakes are made often requires state certification. For the most part, this doesn't affect EE or CS. No one dies if MS Word crashes or your microwave stops working. And in those exceptions when that's NOT the case, certification is typically required of the products themselves (cars, airplanes, medical equipment) instead of the people who worked on them.

Comment: Re:software dev vs programmer (Score 2) 139

by Dutch Gun (#49376169) Attached to: IT Jobs With the Best (and Worst) ROI

I tend to use "programmer" or "computer programmer" for myself, because I think it's the most accurate description.

Most professions with "engineer" in the title require state certification and licensing to practice their trade. I figure that's a reasonable benchmark for whether someone should put "engineer" in their title. Some engineers get in a snit about this, and I can sort of see their point.

I generally view "developer" as anyone who works on the software product in any capacity, although "software developer" still would likely refer to a programmer. For many products, there may be little distinction between "programmers" and "developers" simply because all the developers happen to be programmers. I happen to work in video games, where there are typically many more non-programmers than programmers working on a given project. As such, the distinction becomes more important. It's fairly common in the video game industry (and the public at large) to refer to everyone involved as developers, or "devs".

Comment: Re:Correlation is not Causation (Score 2) 316

by Dutch Gun (#49376063) Attached to: Poverty May Affect the Growth of Children's Brains

My first thought was poor nutrition as well. It's the same sort of claim that dentists make, like how unhealthy teeth can lead to other health problems. I've always figured it's more likely that people who don't take care of their teeth also don't take care of their bodies in general.

About your proposed food stamp rules... you're missing the "grains" food group (bread, flour, rice, etc) entirely, not to mention a few other fundamental things like eggs, butter, salt, and sugar. I'm going to take a wild guess that you don't do the bulk of the shopping and cooking for your household.

You can read the rationale as to why the US government currently does not restrict any "food" item, no matter it's health value. Personally, I think it's more worthwhile to focus on working to get people off food stamps altogether than trying to add a bunch of regulatory burdens to the program. If you want to focus on abuse, let's look at more rampant fraudulent welfare claims to start with. Buying a candy bar instead of an apple is a terrible health choice, but I'd hardly count it as "abuse".

Comment: Re:Passport numbers (Score 4, Interesting) 139

They surely never have to bother with this on their own. It's handled all by their underlings, of course. I suppose one way to explain it would be that it might cause some minor political embarrassment if it were revealed the head of state / elected leader didn't have a passport, and therefore, technically speaking, was actually breaking the law when traveling abroad. They don't really *need* it, of course, but bureaucracies, if nothing else, tend to mind their p's and q's. The sender undoubtedly intended to send that information to another civil servant for properly processing it in some mundane fashion, as they tend to do. I'm betting 1000 to 1 that it was for no interesting or glamorous reason other than fulfilling a bureaucratic rule or an information filing law.

Comment: Re:So You are Saying (Score 1) 68

by Dutch Gun (#49366439) Attached to: Another Patent Pool Forms For HEVC

I actually read through some of the patents Nokia was threatening VP8/9 with and they really are not sophisticated at all, they are just written in the most confusing possible way.

Oh, don't misunderstand... I'm betting that what was patented is actually not all that complex in principle. And naturally, being patents, they're written as broadly and confusingly as possible. That doesn't mean the software as a whole is not extremely sophisticated. Try reading an open source video or audio codec and you'll see how complex it really is in practice.

Comment: Re:a reversal to the open cockpit doors of the pas (Score 1) 442

by Dutch Gun (#49366353) Attached to: Why the Final Moments Inside a Cockpit Are Heard But Not Seen

A locked and reinforced cockpit door prevented hijackers from gaining entry to a Chinese flight a few years back. Members of the crew and some off-duty policemen among the passengers fought back and subdued the entire group of hijackers - even killing two of them in the struggle. There have apparently been other hijackings in which the criminals never gained entry to the cockpit either, instead holding either passengers or the plane itself hostage with weapons or bombs respectively.

Locked doors may also have deterred other hijackings in recent years, along with the realization that passengers seem far more likely to react by attacking and subduing the hijackers on their own, though of course you really can't know for sure one way or another. It seems as though 9/11 permanently altered the "rules" of airline hijackings when it was realized that airliners could be turned into extremely deadly guided missiles powerful enough to take down the largest structures. At that point, instead of dealing with hundreds of dead, you could be looking at many thousands of dead.

It's true a pilot could conceivably do the same thing in the future, and I'm not sure there's ever really a way to prevent that from happening. The copilot could just have easily have switched to manual control and pushed the nose of the plane straight into the ground just prior to landing, and there would be no way for the pilot to react in time since this would only take a few seconds. As such, I think the locked and reinforced door still seems like the safest option. As horrible as this event was, it remains an even rarer occurrence than hijackings, even though we've seemed to have a recent uptick.

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