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Comment: I live in the Netherlands (Score 5, Interesting) 301

by Frans Faase (#49118949) Attached to: I ride a bike ...
I ride my bike almost every day, to work, to the city center and for doing shoppings. I try to bike as much as possible. I am too lazy to do sports, and biking is my way of doing exercises, which I find important having a job where I sit quiet most of the time. I am proud to live in the country with the (probably) best biking facilities in the world.

Comment: Re:Chinese that speak English (Score 1) 578

by Frans Faase (#48732135) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?
In fact in Chinese many words (characters) are pronounced in the same way and same tone, just like there are words in English that are pronounced in the same way, but written differently. Which meaning is intended is usually clear from the context. Tones often differ between dialect, and usually this is not a problem, not any more when English speakers from different dialects speak with each other. Furthermore, tones are restricted to the vowels, not to the sentences, as otherwise it would not be possible to sing in Chinese. The use of tones do not restrict you with respect to expressing emotions and there are just as many ways of saying hello in Chinese than there are in English.

Comment: Re:Most Chinese do not (Score 1) 578

by Frans Faase (#48732021) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?
I do not know whether Wikipedia counts as a reliable source, but it gives the same number: Chinese language and Languages of China. I also would not count Cantonees as a dialect of Mandrin. Cantonese has nine tones, where as Mandrin has only four, and most words are pronounced differently.

Some minorities are allowed to use their own language. I have been to a large city were many signs were written with Arabic characters.

In China, highschool is divided into junior secondary school and senior secondary school, both being three years. Only junior secondary school is compulsory. So, not all Chinese do attend highschool in the sense that they attend both junior and senior secondary school. In 2010 the percentage was 82.5. One should note that these percentages have increased strongly in the past two decades. To enter most higher education institutions it is not sufficient to finish senior secondary school, but one has to pass a state exam as well. I am aware that Chinese are obesessed with education, but it is also a fact that many Chinese still live in rural areas, where the quality of education is not always very high.

Comment: Most Chinese do not (Score 1) 578

by Frans Faase (#48724303) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?
Fact is that most Chinese do not speak English, as I have experienced first hand. In fact 30% of the Chinese do not have Mandrin (including local dialects) as their first language: see this list of languages spoken in China. English is now taught at highschool, but not all Chinese do attend highschool. I have noticed that they are usually beter at reading the language than speaking it. I have met Chinese who published scientific papers in English, but could not keep a normal conversation.

Comment: Bootstrapping and time travel (Score 3, Interesting) 289

by Frans Faase (#48492269) Attached to: Physicist Kip Thorne On the Physics of "Interstellar"

Spoiler alert for the movie Interstellar

It seems he did not get the main idea of the movie. The whole movie rests on the idea that it is possible to manipulate gravity in the past. The traversable wormhole was created by some humans in the far future and allowed the main character to communicate with the past, causing himself to join a space program, which would lead him to the place to communicate with the past, and by this save human kind from some disaster and in the far future allow to develop the technology to create the wormhole and a black hole with strange properties. So, it also involves a form of bootstrapping. Which makes even less sense, if indead traversable wormholes could be made at all.

Comment: People are the problem (Score 4, Insightful) 82

by Frans Faase (#48265881) Attached to: "Ambulance Drone" Prototype Unveiled In Holland
Here in the Netherlands the problem is not in getting an AED on the site, but to find someone who can apply it. There are many people trained in using AED's and we here in the Netherlands possibly have the highest density of AED's, and although there is an elobrate system to call trained people to a person with a cardiac arrest, the problem is still in getting enough volunteers to join in. It is no use to have an AED within 200 meters from every house, if you don't have people who can apply them. AED's are not difficult to use, but in a case of emergencie, you need someone who can keep his/her head calm and follow the instructions.

Comment: MRI did have some effect with my wife (Score 2) 74

by Frans Faase (#47785745) Attached to: Magnetic Stimulation Boosts Memory In Humans
In 2006 my wife reported that her memory improved after she had an MRI taken of her head when she was suffering from memory problems. A few months later, also based on lumbal puncture, she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers disease. She reported that her thinking became much more clear. The effect only lasted for half a day. When I told her neurologists, she laughed it away.

Comment: Very first CFL still working (Score 1) 278

by Frans Faase (#47411143) Attached to: My most recent energy-saving bulbs last ...
My parents bought some of the very first CFL lamps, and they are still being used every day. So, it truely is possible to produce lamps with an incredible life-time, but I guess it is not a very good business model. Beter make lamps that break down, so people have to buy new ones every so many years.

Comment: 1978: IBM Fortran to Cyber Fortran (Score 1) 230

by Frans Faase (#46882545) Attached to: One-a-Day-Compiles: Good Enough For Government Work In 1983
The summer of 1978, I spend some time to convert a large Fortran program in the IBM dialect to Fortran on a Cyber mainframe. The program consisted of about 1500 punch cards. At first I would load the whole deck every time. After some time, I discovered it was possible to store the program on disk and edit them by-line using a program called Update. This still requires typing punch cards. Everytime, I checked the cards many times to make sure, I did not make any mistakes. And then it was waiting before the monitors showing he input, the execution, and the output queue, If it was out of the output queue, you still had to wait before the output was dropped in one of the labled boxes, which could take another ten minutes. In those times memory usages was billed in the Kbytes per second. I did it for nothing. Just the fun to work on a real mainframe was enough. Afterwards, I was rewarded with the book `Finite Mathematics' by Seymour Lipschutz.

The person giving me the assignment also wrote programs in some kind of simulation language where the lines could be in any order. Sometimes he would shuffle the cards while standing in line for the cards to be read, just to make fun of the other waiting.

Comment: Programming is hard, is because computers are slow (Score 0) 391

by Frans Faase (#46610163) Attached to: Toward Better Programming
One of the main reasons why programming is hard, is because computers are slow. This may sound very counter intuitive, but the fact that computers look like they are fast because they make use of many smart tricks, most of which we are no longer aware off. It is important to realize that computers all rely on the memory piramid, where in the top of the memory there is a little very fast memory and at the bottom there is a vast amouth of slow memory (often distributed in a system called The Internet). The range in speed and size is more than 9 powers of 10. A lot of effort is spend in copy data between the kinds of memory inside this memory piramid. And to be able to implement systems that appear fast, we have to deal with all the small tricks that are used in the system to make it look fast. Knuth has said that very often premature optimization is the root of all problems. The real fact is that almost every act of programming (in an imperative language) is an act of optimization, namely finding an implementation of a function with given constraints. Take for example the simple fact that whenever we deal with an integer in a program, it is an integer within a limited range. But an integer could be arbitrary large. So as soon as you declare an integer in your program, you are performing an act of optimization, because you decide that in your case the range of values within your function are limited to a certain power of 2. (Except if your language has an implementation for BigInt, but even these always have a limit.)

Comment: Programming is hard because computers are slow (Score 1) 90

by Frans Faase (#46610123) Attached to: Charter Challenges Comcast/Time Warner Merger
One of the main reasons why programming is hard, is because computers are slow. This may sound very counter intuitive, but the fact that computers look like they are fast because they make use of many smart tricks, most of which we are no longer aware off. It is important to realize that computers all rely on the memory piramid, where in the top of the memory there is a little very fast memory and at the bottom there is a vast amouth of slow memory (often distributed in a system called The Internet). The range in speed and size is more than 9 powers of 10. A lot of effort is spend in copy data between the kinds of memory inside this memory piramid. And to be able to implement systems that appear fast, we have to deal with all the small tricks that are used in the system to make it look fast. Knuth has said that very often premature optimization is the root of all problems. The real fact is that almost every act of programming (in an imperative language) is an act of optimization, namely finding an implementation of a function with given constraints. Take for example the simple fact that whenever we deal with an integer in a program, it is an integer within a limited range. But an integer could be arbitrary large. So as soon as you declare an integer in your program, you are performing an act of optimization, because you decide that in your case the range of values within your function are limited to a certain power of 2. (Except if your language has an implementation for BigInt, but even these always have a limit.)

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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