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Comment: Performance nightmare in practice (Score 1) 149

by Mostly a lurker (#46279863) Attached to: Can Reactive Programming Handle Complexity?
A lot of what is in the example reminds me of a 4GL I worked with in the 1980s that had a feature called "computed fields". The idea is extremely nice conceptually, and seems to nest nicely, as well as be easily integrated with other functionality. The main problem is performance. Some pretty smart people worked on the tools, but (with the complexity of real life systems) you tend to end up with the same values being continually recalculated. It turns out that (because of the generality of the functionality, and the inability to predict when values will be updated or queried) it is extremely difficult to suppress these duplicate calculations. A typical application developer will create code that results in values being recalculated thousands of times in a single transaction. The problem is both worse and more intractable than is experienced with computed columns in spreadsheets.

Comment: Re:Constitution free zone (Score 1) 622

Next they will start to shoot journalists

They need plausible deniability, so I doubt it. There have probably been some staged accidents, and it is worth remembering that the US did bomb the Al Jazeera offices in Baghdad. The considered attack on the Al Jazeera world headquarters in Qatar was probably only rejected because there was no good way to make it look like an accident.

Comment: Re:I donâ(TM)t suppose... (Score 1) 622

There is an assumption here that due process will be followed against those "guilty" of talking to journalists. That is naive. In US government agencies (whatever the written regulations or law might specify) only those specifically cleared to speak with the media are allowed to do so. Once it is known by the heads of those agencies that someone has broken this unwritten rule, they will get him, legal niceties be damned.

Comment: Democracy doomed? (Score 5, Interesting) 165

Democracy only works if those in power are committed to its preservation. Important policies and actions need to be discussed and public opinion allowed to influence final decisions. There is ample evidence that the U.S. and some other older democracies no longer really want their people involved in important decision making. They need to pay lip service to the concept. However, a combination of lies, secrecy and manipulation (partly by politicians themselves and partly by well funded PACs) ensure informed participation from the general population is next to impossible.

"Democracy" and "human rights" in these countries will no doubt remain for a long time as key justifications for very undemocratic foreign policies, but are well on the way to being dead in any meaningful sense.

Comment: Guilty! (Score 4, Insightful) 165

... the police will now be allowed to examine the material to investigate whether a crime of 'communication of material to an enemy' has been committed

Miranda is clearly guilty, then, as he certainly communicated embarrassing information to dirty red commie journalists.

Sadly, many Western governments are unable to carry out some actions they want to if the general public knows about them, simply because most people consider them immoral and unacceptable. They are, then, presented with a dilemma. They can stop doing things their electorate would find objectionable, they can try to eliminate the ability of the electorate to influence government, or they can lie about what they are doing and try to keep it secret. The third is impossible if people like Snowden are allowed to tell people what their government is doing on their behalf.

Comment: Hard to comment without more specifics (Score 1) 273

I left England in 1979 and have been living and working in different places around the world ever since.

IMHO, your basic idea is right. Combine work you want to do with traveling and experiencing all the world has to offer. Those suggesting you simply skip working for a few years have no idea how difficult it can be to get back into the swim later.

Issues such as visas, living costs, easy access to good Internet connections and an environment conducive to working effectively vary tremendously from place to place. [If you have ideas about where you might go, and let me know, I might be able to provide more specific advice.]

Here are some pointers that you will probably not receive from others, especially those who have not done it. First and foremost, you need a clear plan on work/life balance and you need to be disciplined on adhering to it. I have seen many intelligent and talented people, faced with the temptations that exist in many parts of the world, simply self destruct because they lack structure in their lives. That does not mean you cannot take periods of a month or two to concentrate on traveling and enjoying life in a way that cannot easily be combined with work. It does mean that, any time you do this, you should set yourself a time limit for returning to your more structured lifestyle and stick to that time limit.

If staying more than a couple of weeks anywhere, try to escape from traveler ghettos and immerse yourself in the local culture. For instance, rent a room in an area where few foreigners live and eat in the places frequented by locals. This will take you out of your comfort zone, but will teach you more in a week about the realities of the society you are in than a year in a backpacker guest house.

If you have specific questions, ask away!

Comment: Re:who else is insane? (Score 1, Interesting) 308

by Mostly a lurker (#43157669) Attached to: Using Truth Serum To Confirm Insanity

If somebody was ordering assassinations of children just for the lulz and for minor economic gain , then yes, they'd be insane.

I think each individual involved in the decision to pick wars with strangers the other end of the world has his own justifications (rationalizations), but the fundamental rational is major financial gain for those involved in the defense industry. For the average American (let alone the poor inhabitants of the countries chosen as battlefields) spending of about $700,000,000,000 a year (an average of about $7,000 for each payer of federal taxes) to build the capability to blow people up at will makes no sense. However, for a small minority, wars are an amazing opportunity to profit.

Comment: Suicide? If so, why? (Score 1) 589

by Mostly a lurker (#42572147) Attached to: Aaron Swartz Commits Suicide
Most likely, it was suicide. Here are the most obvious alternatives:
  1. Government sanctioned assassination: possible, but unlikely. Certainly, under sufficiently important conditions, the government is willing to resort to this. It would need to be something like Aaron stumbling across evidence of a 9-11 cover-up as part of his Wkileaks activities. Nothing we already know about would be sufficient reason.
  2. Non-government murder: possible, but very unlikely. There is no indication that he was in serious conflict with anyone.
  3. Auto erotic accident: in his case, almost impossible. He would have been aware of the risks and too smart to suffer this.

If it was suicide, then what was the ultimate trigger? Bear in mind that suicide (at least, in modern Western societies) is rarely the result of the single event.

  1. Acute depression with no particular cause: most probable. It would be interesting to know if his long-standing problems with episodes of depression were being treated, and (if so) how. Drug treatments are usually effective against acute depression, though this varies from person to person and relief of symptoms is usually not immediate, and long term drug use often subject to side effects and reduced effectiveness. Cognitive therapies are usually only effective against mild to moderate depression.
  2. Legal problems: unlikely as a major cause. I personally believe he would have relished fighting his legal persecution. Any suicide as a reaction to the prospect of a long prison sentence would have needed the case to be much further advanced.
  3. Blackmail (by the government): very possible. Many people have secrets (often not illegal) that they desperately want to keep from others. Given his involvement with Wikileaks, the government would definitely have tried to blackmail him if they had anything they could use for that purpose.
  4. Personal relationship problems: possible, but no evidence to support that theory.

Really, there is nothing except supposition to support foul play. Without something concrete to go on, his family and close friends should be left to grieve in peace.

RIP, Aaron. I only know you through your Internet freedom advocacy, but regret your passing.

Comment: Re:People not aware that it runs ChromeOS? (Score 5, Insightful) 372

by Mostly a lurker (#42448525) Attached to: Chromebook Takes Top Place In Laptop Sales On Amazon

TFA says it runs Ubuntu -- "a full desktop OS."

This means that it is possible to install Ubuntu (and several other Linux distributions) not that it is sold with Ubuntu already installed. For most buyers, the experience out of the box is what counts. Fwiiw, I think this will be perfectly acceptable for most bearing in mind the price tag.

Comment: Variation on time division multiplexing (Score 2) 79

by Mostly a lurker (#42051475) Attached to: Quantum Cryptography Conquers Noise Problem
While the hardware challenges are undoubtedly substantial, the basic idea is just a variation on time division multiplexing, which has been extensively used since the days of the telegraph, well before 1900. If this receives a patent, I hope it is for some hardware advance and not just because of the sharing of the fibre.

Comment: Can inanimate objects exhibit "moxie"? (Score 2) 56

by Mostly a lurker (#41749325) Attached to: Building Babbage's Analytical Engine
Can an expert on modern English comment on the summary's use of the word "moxie" as presumably meaning "capable". I have always thought "moxie" to be something only a person could have and mean "strength of character" or similar. Is there a difference in American versus British English?

Comment: Quite a few risks (Score 1) 249

by Mostly a lurker (#41572361) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Transporting Computers By Cargo Ship?
I strongly suspect that few of the posters have actually shipped stuff by sea to the tropics, or viewed the typical handling of containers in a container yard.

As others have stated, the main risk of total loss is through pilferage. However, ships cargo gets much rougher handling than your checked baggage when traveling by air. The posters who say that lots of electronics gets shipped from the Far East to the US and Europe are correct. To get an idea of why most of it arrives undamaged, take a good look at the packaging your last Chinese made monitor arrived in. You could drop it from 20 feet and leave it for several hours in a sauna with no ill effects. If you want to just pack your stuff securely so it is not rolling around, then maybe you will get lucky, but I would not count on it.

"No problem is so formidable that you can't walk away from it." -- C. Schulz