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Comment: Re:A brief intro (Score 1) 106

by Gimric (#44273211) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Learning DB the Right Way; Books, Tutorials, or What?

Normalization is good because otherwise when one of your users gets married and wants to change her surname you realise that every entry in every table that relates to the user has their surname recorded and you have to update millions of rows in twenty different tables and none of it is documented and if you miss updating it any of the tables you might break something important. In a normalised database you change it one place and you are done.

Comment: Watching, and trial and error (Score 1) 623

by Gimric (#43850931) Attached to: How Did You Learn How To Program?

My Mother would drop me off at Kmart in the electronics section every Saturday for a couple of hours while she went shopping. They had a C64 and people would write stupid little programs that printed text on the screen. I watched them, figured out how to stop the running code and get into the editor and by trial and error figured out how to change the text, make it repeat in different ways and add colour.

Nagged my parents into buying me an Amstrad CPC464 and got a book on how to write text adventure games on the Amstrad CPC464. The first real program I remember writing was a random character generator for Dungeons and Dragons. Never did get it to generate an all 18's character despite running it hundreds of times! :)

Comment: Re:costly and difficult to convert machine tools (Score 2) 1145

by Gimric (#43819135) Attached to: White House: Use Metric If You Want, We Don't Care

I'd argue that small, industrialised economies had a higher cost per capita to change over to metric because some fixed costs are distributed over a smaller population. Australia changed over between 1970 and 1988, and the world didn't end and there weren't riots on the streets. I really think this is one way in which the USA is broken - nobody can agree on changing things so nothing gets changed, even when it would be better in the long term. That is not a good thing and contributes to a slow decline in competitiveness.

We still use imperial units when precision is not important, and where it is customary. We still talk about a person's height in feet, and talk about "mileage" even though we actually measure distances in kilometres.

Comment: Re:Who gives a shit? (Score 5, Interesting) 280

by Gimric (#43260253) Attached to: IRS Spent $60,000 Producing <em>Star Trek</em> Parody

The three largest expenses of the US Federal government are Social Security, Healthcare and the military. If defense was handled at the state level it would be difficult to prevent some states being free-riders, particularly land-locked states. Healthcare and social security could possibly be handled at the state level but the costs would still exist and would result in a great deal of duplication. Also, big business would love to be able to play individual states off against eachother for the best tax deal. It would be a very different country - in fact each state would operate much more like an individual country with all the potential for internal conflict that that entails.

This doesn't excuse waste, but it is extremely naive to think that large corporations are intrinsically any less wasteful and bureaucratic than government departments once they achieve a certain size.

Comment: Re:This is something to worry about (Score 1) 913

by Gimric (#42713775) Attached to: Microsoft Blames PC Makers For Windows Failure

IE fiasco? Are you talking about the same "fiasco" where IE ended up with around 95% marketshare? Sounds like a raging success to me. Where they might've learned that heavy handing stuff down consumers throats are something MS are big enough to do. It's good to see that they can't always do that.

Maybe he is talking about the IE "fiasco" where they needlessly tried to integrate IE with Windows in order to (successfully) drive Netscape out of the browser business, bring down a decade of antitrust heat on themselves and very nearly getting Microsoft broken up into three separate companies by the Department of Justice? Or is that your definition of a "raging success"?

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