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Comment: Re:Please stop. Just stop (Score 1) 1081

by Man Eating Duck (#49263755) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century

The problem is that there is another very negative element too: Collective vengence. The social desire to see those who offend society made to suffer. Worse, this can be counterproductive to the rehabilitation role: Programs aimed at educating prisoners are widely seen as 'soft on crime,' while there is widespread support for any policy that increases the difficulty released prisoners face in finding housing and employment.

As a Norwegian, that seems insane to me. We have some of the nicest prisons in the world, and inmates are given the opportunity to get an education. We also have one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world at around 20%. The authorities have a stated goal to reduce recidivism by providing opportunities for reform in prison. This includes hard criminals like perpetrators of gang-related killings, robbers who have shown willingness to kill police officers in shoot-outs, and drug related crimes, which are among the worst when it comes to recidivism. Although some employers and neighbourhoods frowns on ex-convicts, they generally have lots of opportunities to reinstate themselves in society. You're less likely to be considered for a trusted position, but it even happens that former convicts get one of those with the employers full knowledge of their past (depending on the nature of their crimes and the position).

The punishment constitutes loss of freedom and communication rights - nothing more. The conditions in prisons are good (Halden Prison and Bastøy Prison are some of the "best", but the penal philosophy is the same for all of them), because they're not supposed to make you suffer physically or psychiologically. The political right wing (which even many US Democrats would probably still call liberal bleeding-heart commies) occasionally bleats about reforms to make punishment harsher, but nobody is really serious about it, since the existing system just works too well at turning criminals into productive members of society.

Of course there are a few wackos, like Anders Behring Breivik, for which the regular system doesn't work well. For the likes of him we have 'indefinite detention', our strongest punishment, which is something like life _with_ the possibility of parole. It is still very probable that he'll spend his entire life in prison since an absolute requirement for release is that he's deemed safe by psychologists and other professionals, which doesn't seem likely to happen based on his currently reported statements and behaviour.

Comment: Re:Don't confuse them (Score 1) 215

It was about having a completely different mindset when you approach the computer, as compared to BASIC programmers.

Yes, I'm aware of that, I was just trying to be funny. My point is that in any case you'll have to learn new concepts as you go. A case in point: when most programmers approach SQL they try to fit all logic in loops and control structures. Then they discover cursors, and are happy. Afterwards they are amazed that I can rewrite their code to a simpler version which runs 450x faster (one real-world example, the original cursor was written by a senior developer to boot).

Most languages have their own tricks and ways of doing them, and an experienced developer will pick up/understand a lot of them, but you have to start somewhere.

Comment: Re:Don't confuse them (Score 1) 215

At the time Dijkstra said that I suppose most people who could do *any* programming at all were a bit older than the kids we're talking about here :) Kids aren't likely to get stuck in a bad pattern just because that was the first thing they learnt, they are pretty flexible when it comes to acquiring new concepts. BASIC is as good as any language to teach the most fundamental concepts of linear programs and control structures. I would try to avoid the GOTOs, though, as modern languages do the same things in a better way.

Anyway, I intend to introduce my kids (twins just turned two) to programming, but I'll probably wait a few years before I try to pique their interest. If they're not interested I won't push them. When I do, I'll probably start with something that yield physical results, such as Mindstorms or something that creates lights or motion that are easy to grasp. The choice of language is really not important at this point. Logo is actually a pretty decent language for this purpose, the turtle graphics (which I suppose is integral to this usage of the language, and I hope it still has it) is good for introducing input and results. It's also one of the languages of choice for our local "teach the kids coding" non-profit, and I also know that they use Kay's work in their teaching.

Anyway, to start with I believe it's important that the kids learn the most basic of concepts (linear execution of simple statements, then maybe some control structures), and then hopefully they'll ask the question: "what if I want to change this so it does B instead of A?". At the point when they ask "how do trip planners find the fastest route between two arbitrary points" I'll start introducing them to Dijkstra and his magic :)

Comment: Re:Push starting a car (Score 2) 790

by Man Eating Duck (#48787647) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More?

They would strategize only parking their cars pointing downhill.

I was lucky to be parked on a small hill last summer when my battery suddenly died. Got it started, and took care to park on hills until I got to the hardware store to get a new one :)

With a well maintained engine you can engage the clutch in first gear at less than walking speed and have it start easily.

In Norway stick shifts are very common, to the point that almost all new models still have the option, at least in the low to middle price ranges. Even expensive, non-performance cars are usually available with manual transmission. My next car will certainly be a stick shift.

Comment: Re:Shocking (Score 1) 224

by Man Eating Duck (#48470455) Attached to: Top Counter-Strike Players Embroiled In Hacking Scandal

It can be easily argued that CS requires a different style of play than CoD or BF. If it's not your thing then it's not your thing but to act like all shooters are the same game isn't insightful.

It can be easily argued that Canadian football requires a different style of play than American football. If it's not your thing then it's not your thing but to act like all football is the same game isn't insightful.

Actually to people who aren't all wrapped up in it it really IS the same game.

Yes, that's true, but the thing that makes GP a troll in this situation is that his lack of insight is completely uninteresting. His post is completely useless.

For the record, knitting is just banging two metal sticks together with some curled-up thread mashed in. I don't know anything about it, but knitting is stupid, and there can be no relevant difference between different kinds of knitting since "it takes 'true mastery' to even find any kind of difference". I include weaving, sewing and embroidery in the set {differend kinds of knitting}, by the way, since they all look the same to me.

Comment: Re:You guessed it: It depends (Score 1) 224

by Man Eating Duck (#48182135) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

I can't give anyone a non-GPL licence to this work, which is what they were demanding.

IANAL, but are you sure this is the case? I believe that in my country (Norway) at least, you're still the sole proprietor of your IP. You can sign an exclusivity contract, which of course puts restrictions on what you can do with your IP, but it can't put any liability on you for rights you've granted in the past (although an already contracted exclusivity can be transferred). Did they want to gain exclusive rights to code you'd already published under the GPL?

Under our laws, (again I believe that) that would make no sense. If there was a mechanism by which the license for a piece of code could be retroactively retracted most O project would have had huge problems. A license is different from a contract, and a license can't preclude other uses in the manner that a contract can. Even ignoring that, however, you would still be able to apply as many licenses a you want to your code. Does the GPL preclude that you grant, for instance, a BSD or Apache license for code which you wrote yourself?

Naturally I otherwise agree with your post :)

Comment: Re:As well they should. (Score 1) 243

Yellow. The color of the sun. Obviously.

No, the light from the sun is white. The reason why it appears yellow in the sky is that a good portion of the blue-ish spectrum is spread in the atmosphere, making the sky blue, but hindering most of the blue light coming directly from the sun. The aggregated daylight during mid-day is indeed white, being the sum of direct sunlight plus the other parts of the spectrum reflected in the atmosphere from other directions. Sunlight's not a certain colour in the spectrum, more or less by necessity it's a mix of *all* visible colours.

The human eye is most sensitive to green light a lower intensities, and yellowish-green at higher intensities. This is due to the nature of the colour receptors in our eyes. Observe the visibility of equally powerful red, blue and green laser beams to verify this.

Comment: Re:metric you insensitive clod! (Score 1) 403

Presumably Europe uses litres per 100 kilometres. At least that's what we use in Canada.

Yes, that's common. As a curiosity, in Norway we use liters/10 km. That's because 10km is the length of a Scandinavian mile, commonly used in colloquial speech in Norway.

Of course the l/100km unit is intuitively understandable for us, and it's also true that it makes more sense than mpg.

Comment: Re:Inverse Wi-fi law (Score 1) 278

by Man Eating Duck (#48064983) Attached to: Marriott Fined $600,000 For Jamming Guest Hotspots

The really dumpy hotels have no choice. Their plant is run down, and they may be a no-name. Unless they offer free amenities, nobody in their right mind is going to stay at their place (assuming similar nightly rents) unless there's no choice.

I'd say that the really dumpy hotels are just badly managed. Yes, it costs a bit more to keep your facilities maintained and properly cleaned as opposed to let everything run down, but nothing like the 2-3x increase in price that you'll typically pay at a decent hotel compared to a dump. The hotel might need to have a bit more cost for cleaning and maintenance personnel, but the cost is seriously not that high, and it makes sense to aim for repeat business.

As an example: one of my nicest stays was five nights at a nine-room B&B in Edinborough, run by an elderly widow (not active anymore, she probably retired) . Although the building was old and creaky the staff (one girl) was very friendly and helpful, the rooms were spotlessly clean, they had a cosy library-ish common room with a fireplace constantly lit in the evening, and the landlady prepared a home-cooked breakfast every day (brought to you in your room if you were to badly hung-over from sampling lokal whisky the previous night, regardless of whether you really wanted it). The price was £23/night. They made a good bit of extra money by providing simple food and drinks in the evening, but that was also at a reasonable price.

The point is that as they managed to make money (they did, I asked) running a pleasant establishment at budget prices, there's no reason why any dump motel shouldn't be able to convert into a nice place to stay while keeping a similar price point. No, they might not be able to provide shirt press and shoe polishing included (although I'm quite confident that the landlady at the mentioned B&B would have done that at no extra cost), but they *can* keep the place clean, have helpful and service-minded staff, and generally be not-a-dump at a budget as long as they have proper management that cares.

PS my keyboard has a marginal 's' key, apologies if I missed any of them.

Comment: Re:flash/disk/tape ratios still stand (Score 1) 183

I've stopped attempting to keep my game collection on the an SSD.

Install all games to an HDD, and only keep the games you're actually playing on the SSD. Under Windows 7 I use a 120GB SSD for OS and the 2-3 games I'm currently playing by using Steam Mover. Since it's simply a GUI for a few cmd commands (mklink being the central one) it'll work for any directory you point it at, not just Steam games, and it's very robust.

If you're on Linux you're likely already familiar with some ways of doing this, if not I can give you a few pointers :)


New Display Technology Corrects For Vision Defects 28

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the fuzzy-pixels dept.
rtoz (2530056) writes Researchers at the MIT Media Lab have developed a new display technology that automatically corrects for vision defects without requiring glasses or contact lenses. This technique could lead to dashboard-mounted GPS displays that farsighted drivers can consult without putting their glasses on, or electronic readers that eliminate the need for reading glasses. The display is a variation on a glasses-free 3-D technology: a 3-D display projects slightly different images to the viewer's left and right eyes. Similarly, this vision-correcting display projects slightly different images to different parts of the viewer's pupil.

Comment: Re:We've observed and created antiparticles (Score 1) 214

by Man Eating Duck (#47490943) Attached to: Cosmologists Show Negative Mass Could Exist In Our Universe

By coincidence I was discussing Orwell with a friend last night. We decided that while 1984 was fine sociology and politics, the plot really didn't depend at all on the small amounts of technoogy he described. The surveillance could have been provided by spies as well as by TV screens and cameras. "SF" isn't a category we'd put Orwell into.

Um, science fiction doesn't have to be technology-focused, and most of the best stories aren't (with some exceptions where some exotic tech is a plot device). Sure, as many sci-fi stories occurs in the future there is an assumption that new technology have been marching on, but many interesting stories concern themselves with how humans react to the possibilities enabled by technology and new societal structures, rather than the technology itself. Nineteen Eigthy-four is specifically a future dystopia, but I'd certainly place it within the Sci-Fi genre.

On a side note, I've found that providing performance specifics about technology, specifically computers, are a sure sign of *bad* Sci-Fi. I read a novel written in 1992 set in 2007 where one particular computer had a CPU of 400 MHz and was equipped with "several hundred megabytes of memory". Bad Sci-Fi writers: restrict yourself to describing what amazing feats the wrist-computer is capable of, do not venture into providing explicit hardware specifications :)

Single tasking: Just Say No.