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Comment: Correlation != causation, dammit (Score 1) 329

by FrnkMit (#47745365) Attached to: ACM Blames the PC For Driving Women Away From Computer Science

*People* are different, and like different things. Men and women, however, aren't that different (roles in reproduction excepted), so a statistically significant difference points to a social or psychological cause, not biology.

That said, the PC isn't itself the problem, as the TFA -- or maybe just the summary -- seems to imply. Looking at other professions with gender imbalances, though, one can posit a few underlying causes. a) Secretaries were once men who helped important people with important matters; once the typewriter came in, women seized on typing as a "respectable" way to support themselves and the modern secretarial pool was born. (See b) Blechley Park and earlier research projects employed female "computers" before they developed electric ones because women worked hard and worked cheap. All the mathematical whizzes, however, were upper-class men; who would pay for a woman's education, when they would just get married and pop out kids? (See also Disney animators.)

Obviously somebody needs to do solid research, but one could hypothesize that the PC coincided with three trends: the growth of male-dominated "hacker" culture, the use of PCs by Serious Men for Serious Business, and the decline of mainframes (i.e. server rooms in which nobody knew or cared women worked). Without hard data, though, this is mere conjecture. Loads better than "women don't like computers", though.

Comment: Not a controversial question AT ALL ... (Score 2) 247

by FrnkMit (#46437519) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What's New In Legacy Languages?

Legacy properly describes a software system, not a language. Languages rise and fall in popularity. Sometimes a language has inherent limits, sometimes the implementation stinks, sometimes the syntax or paradigm no longer become fashionable. Sometimes languages and platforms disappear only to re-emerge years later. Back in the late 1990's NeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP was turning into a "legacy platform" ... yet today MacOSX and iOS rely on Objective-C and descendants of the NeXT APIs. Even if a language fades completely from the mainstream its ideas inspire new languages: Java borrowed from Objective-C and C++; Ruby borrowed from Perl, Smalltalk, and a little from Eiffel.

Stay in the industry long enough, you'll see everything come back.

Comment: Blame game (Score 1) 716

by FrnkMit (#46228413) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should Developers Fix Bugs They Cause On Their Own Time?

Is this a valid analogy? In short, no. A bit longer answer: NOOOOOOO. For a full explanation, read on.

I can't speak to how construction works, but I know how software development and developers work. Usually software breaks not because of a bad developer, but because of integration issues and subtle interactions which are hard to detect, and even harder to assign "blame" to without a lot of investigation. The investigation is generally the hardest part, so you'll have to charge time already spent.

Worse, your boss is proposing a "blame game" where every defect is somebody's fault, almost always somebody on the current development team. Far from encouraging better software, this will keep developers from entering their own bugs (or any bugs) into the bug tracking system, and encourage finger-pointing rather than collaboration. Meanwhile, your boss thinks he'll save money by making developers work for free "on their own time". In the worst case, the person who touched a piece of code is IT, whether it's a legitimate mistake or a weird edge case. What you'll get is a workplace full of egos, fiefdoms ("don't mess up MY code"), and destructive competition.


Aussies Hit the Streets Over Gov't Internet Filters 224

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the thinking-of-the-children dept.
mask.of.sanity writes "Outraged aussies will hold simultaneous protests across Australia in opposition to the government's plans for mandatory ISP internet content filtering. The plan will introduce nation-wide filtered internet using blacklists operated by a government agency, away from public scrutiny. Politicians and ISPs will join protesters in the streets to voice their opposition to the government's plan, which has ploughed ahead, despite intense criticism that the technology will crippled internet speeds and infringe on free speech. Opponents said the most accurate filter chosen by the government will incorrectly block up to 10,000 Web pages out of 1 million."
The Internet

Bittorrent To Cause Internet Meltdown 872

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the packet-schmacket dept.
Gimble writes "Richard Bennett has an article at the Register claiming that a recent uTorrent decision to use UDP for file transfers to avoid ISP 'traffic management' restrictions will cause a meltdown of the internet reducing everybody's bandwidth to a quarter of their current value. Other folks have also expressed concern that this may not be the best thing for the internet."

How Regulations Hamper Chemical Hobbyists 610

Posted by timothy
from the council-of-wise-men-strikes-again dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Chemical & Engineering News just ran this story that relates how government regulations create a terribly restrictive atmosphere for people who do chemistry as a hobby. (A related story was previously posted.)" The article gives some examples of why hamfisted regulations are harmful even to those who aren't doing the chemistry themselves: "Hobby chemists will tell you that home labs have been the source of some of chemistry's greatest contributions. Charles Goodyear figured out how to vulcanize rubber with the same stove that his wife used to bake the family's bread. Charles Martin Hall discovered the economical electrochemical process for refining aluminum from its ore in a woodshed laboratory near his family home. A plaque outside Sir William Henry Perkin's Cable Street residence in London notes that the chemist 'discovered the first aniline dyestuff, March 1856, while working in his home laboratory on this site and went on to found science-based industry.'"
The Internet

China Defines Internet Addiction 201

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the one-more-addiction-to-the-list dept.
narramissic writes "Three years after the first clinic dedicated to Internet addiction opened in Beijing, Chinese doctors have now officially defined it as an ailment. Those afflicted with this ailment spend six or more hours a day online and exhibit at least one of the following symptoms: difficulty sleeping or concentrating, yearning to be online, irritation, and mental or physical distress. Do you meet the criteria? You're in good company: About 10 percent of China's 253 million Internet users exhibit some form of addiction to the medium, and 70 percent of those people are young men, an official Xinhua News Agency report said."

Comment: Re:Better games? (Score 1) 243

by FrnkMit (#23146798) Attached to: D&D 4th Ed vs. Open Gaming
[I]Spirit of the Century[/I] technically uses the Open Gaming License, but it has no actual content from the d20 SRD. It just uses the text of the OGL for compatibility with FUDGE (which does the same), and in turn to make the core of the FATE system free for others to build upon.

See for the license (and the entire FATE 3/SotC SRD, as it currently exists).

Asynchronous inputs are at the root of our race problems. -- D. Winker and F. Prosser