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Comment He would not get a fair trial (Score 1) 498 498

What you don't like is the law... Fine, just don't keep saying he won't get a fair trial because according to the LAW he will. Saying he won't get a fair trial is wrong. The courts are there to fairly apply the law and for the most part, that's what they do.

You cannot have a fair trial governed by unfair laws. Jim Crow laws were brutally unjust. Are you seriously going to claim that the rulings under Jim Crow laws were in any way fair or just? Just because something is the law does not mean trials will be fair. It is a trivial exercise to write laws that clearly prevent a fair trial under any reasonable definition of the term "fair". You seem to have a fairly mechanical definition of the word fair. Just because something follows the law does not mean it is fair. Under your logic anything a dictator does is fair because he is applying the law interpreted correctly. That's a ridiculous argument.

Although it seems obvious to me that the laws on treason are fairly clear and even handed

I guess it's fortunate you aren't a lawyer then because it's not at all clear that the actions of Mr. Snowden constitute treason. In fact it's rather easy to argue that they do not under the US Constitution which puts some rather strict limits on the definition of treason. He did not levy war against the US and it's debatable whether he gave aid and comfort to the enemies of the US. Convictions or even indictments for treason in the US are quite rare. The most recent was in 2006 and the last before that was in 1952. Mr. Snowden's actions would likely be considered a felony rather than treason. Daniel Ellsberg who released the Pentagon Papers wasn't charged with treason nor were numerous captured spys and others who released confidential documents.

I'm not sure how you think the law can be changed so Snowden get's what you think is a fair result, without letting other folks off who really *should* be convicted.

The law doesn't have to be changed at all. The justice department merely has to decline to prosecute or the President can grant a pardon. Happens all the time. The next guy can be prosecuted or not under the same set of rules without changing anything or causing any serious problems.

Comment Everyone should be able to build useful tools (Score 1) 280 280

But if I want to build storage sheds for other people, the rules change. I need to build them to at least a minimum standard of quality, people will expect the trim and paint and the like to not fall off or peel, the doors can't fall off the hinges if you push them wrong, that sort of thing. And if I don't build to those minimum standards I'm going to be held legally liable for the shortcomings.

So when are we going to start holding software developers "legally liable for the shortcomings" of the software they write? With some notable exceptions we definitely are not doing this now. When is Adobe going to be liable for the problems caused by Flash? When is Microsoft going to be liable for Windows?

The same thing applies to software development. Just because you can slap together a to-do list app that works for you, doesn't mean it's ready to market to others.

It also doesn't mean we shouldn't provide ways for people to slap together that simple app. I see too many people here thinking programming always has to be some deep art requiring years of training. When people use a spreadsheet they are doing a form of programming. And if that spreadsheet is useful to others (as they sometimes are) then there is nothing wrong with them giving or even selling it to others. The market will determine whether it has real value or not. It doesn't have to be developed in some high cathedral of programming in every case. There are no lack of times when yes you absolutely want well trained IT pros doing the coding but we shouldn't turn it into a clergy where only the IT pros are allowed to code. Swift clearly isn't the solution but in principle there is no reason we shouldn't have tools to allow anyone to program meaningful and useful tools.

I am an engineer (among other things) and I've done more than a trivial amount of coding but I do not code for a living and likely never will. My talents lie elsewhere. But I do develop a lot of small tools to automate business processes. Spreadsheets, small databases, scripts, macros, web pages, etc. I can think of lots of tasks where a sort of pre-fabricated programming systems where I could just organize a set of pre-defined tasks would be super useful and this is a form of programming. (Think lego mindstorms level complexity but more general purpose) I don't think there is any danger of professional programmers being displaced by such a tool. If anything it would free them up to concentrate on less trivial tasks.

Comment Everyone should be able to program some (Score 1) 280 280

"Now everyone can build amazing apps." My question: is this what we really need?

To some degree yes. There absolutely is a need for tools to allow people who aren't professional software engineers to do some form of programming. It doesn't have to be the most sophisticated but the need is there. Haven't you ever wondered why spreadsheets get used for all sorts of tasks they aren't optimized for? It's because it is a way for non-professional programmers to program a computer to do useful tasks. People use spreadsheets as sort of ersatz databases all the time which should be a serious hint that there is a huge need for databases for modest tasks with a much easier to use interface. (yes even easier than Filemaker or Access) Programming doesn't have to be written in C or Swift or Java. Writing a spreadsheet is a form of programming. Creating a macro in a word processor is a form of programming. Sure it's like bowling with the bumpers on the lane gutters but what's wrong with that?

Everybody should have some means to program computers. Swift clearly isn't actually the answer but the notion that everybody should be able to program isn't a dumb idea at all. Expand your definition of what programming is.

People write software for the cars we drive; our finances are in the hands of software, and even the medical industry is replete with new software these days. Poor code here can legitimately mess up somebody's life. Compare this to other high-influence professions: can you become surgeon just because you bought a state-of-art turbo laser knife? Of course not.

That is a ridiculous argument. There will always be a need for programmers to solve problems beyond the abilities of the unwashed masses. Nobody is pretending they are a doctor because they stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night except in advertisements. But that is not a credible argument against providing tools that allow those with less expertise to do useful work. Do we only allow Formula 1 drivers on the roads even though most drivers are far less skilled? Give people the tools to do work at the level they are capable of.

Comment Re:Wrong age (Score 5, Insightful) 165 165

This. Nobody is an adult at 18. Not even close. Most people don't have their cognitive act together, and any sort of capacity for rational behavior (if they're ever going to get there) until, these days, they're the better part of 30.

But knowing to not shoot selfies of yourself being a total jackass is something that can make some sense a lot earlier than 18. If some 15 year old can know enough not to drop his pants in front of his grandmother or in front of his classroom at school, he already has what it takes to know not to do it online. He just has to be taught that. Which involves, you know, parents. Who give a damn about their kids' future.

Comment Re:No Compromises (Score 1) 142 142

I've never had a keyboard phone fail

A beer spilled on my Treo 650, killing a couple of keys. I was able to buy a replacement keyboard off a random eBay seller and swap it in without much trouble (after which the phone was as good as new), but it was an annoyance all the same.

I suspect a newer touchscreen phone would've been less vulnerable to that kind of failure. Can't say that I've tested the theory yet, even though I usually have a beer in one hand and my phone in the other (to log the beer) whenever a beerfest is on.

Comment Re:Another Corporate rape of the commons (Score 1) 105 105

for their benefit

And for YOUR benefit, if you have enough discipline to run your own business that happens to use the same type of technology. I suppose you consider the wireless connectivity you use every day to be a "rape of the commons" every time you connect to a web site that runs advertising in order to pay for their operations? Rape! Rape rape rape! Eeeeevil businesses doing things like ... delivery antibiotics to your hospital. Rape rape rape!

Comment Re:Ooh good business writing regulations. (Score -1, Troll) 105 105

Ooh good business writing regulations. (Score:1)

You're so right. Only people who HATE businesses should be recommending regulations. Only people who've never had the energy to organize a croquet game, let alone the biggest retailer in the world, should propose changes to a huge body of regulations. A fine idea.

Comment Re:Why not have mechanical security too? (Score 1) 145 145

Your objections are just a matter of software for an ATM customized for this application. Except the one about ATMs not able to count money. Huh? You can put a stack of cash in the thing and it will count the money including identifying the denominations.

Comment What will kill me next? (Score 1) 61 61

But if I were learning to fly a spaceship, the first question out of my mouth would be "what all could kill me?"

Almost everything. The question I hear astronauts apparently ask is "what is going to kill me next?" It seems to be about 90%+ of their training. Trying to figure out all the ways they can die and how to mitigate the chances of it actually happening.

Comment No just laws = No fair trial (Score 5, Insightful) 498 498

Why do people think he's not going to get an open trial? OR a fair one?

It doesn't matter whether he gets an open trial or not. The trial quite simply will not be fair. That is more or less a foregone conclusion. The laws he is charged under basically allow for no context to be considered even if what he did was morally correct and justified. He quite simply cannot get a fair trial.

The outcome may be obvious, but that doesn't make the trial unfair....

A ludicrous argument because it presumes the laws are just. Laws frequently are wildly unfair and you cannot have a fair trial when you are being judged under unfair laws.

Comment Nobody is asking them to condone (Score 1) 498 498

no government is going to officially, publicly condone such a thing being done.

Nobody is asking them to. It would be fine if they would merely drop the issue instead of seeking retribution. That is an option available to them. The cat is out of the bag, the government has egg on its face (deservedly so) and the right thing happened. Time to let it go.

Comment Ministry of Truth... (Score 1) 498 498

What do you expect from a country that has a Department of Homeland Security? It sounds like something from Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. (Fatherland, motherland, homeland ...)

Glad to know I'm not the only one that thinks that. I always thought it sounded uncomfortably like something right out of a oppressive dictatorship or a George Orwell book.

Comment Nixon (Score 1) 498 498

He wasn't kicked out. He resigned before he could be impeached. He was then pardoned shortly afterwards.

Semantics really. He unquestionably would have been impeached and likely removed from office. And if he didn't do anything there would have been no reason to pardon him.

Real programmers don't bring brown-bag lunches. If the vending machine doesn't sell it, they don't eat it. Vending machines don't sell quiche.