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Comment: Re:Don't forget Firefox Hello! (Score 1) 147 147

Videoconferencing from any device on the planet without installing any special software is bloat?

YES, in the same way that every user on the planet would probably want a calculator once in a while but that doesn't mean the browser needs to add one!

Firefox comes with a couple of calculators built in. It has since before it was called Firefox.

Comment: Re:instant disqualification (Score 1) 648 648

Commodore BASIC, Turbo Pascal, M6800 Assembly (wonderful!), 8088 Assembly (horrible!), C, SQL, M68k Assembly, AREXX, perl, sh, Javascript, Java, php. I've dabbled in others (I can crank out a VB macro if need be), but those are my core fluencies.

The assembly was very useful in learning how the CPU actually works, and proved very useful for understanding industrial/microcontroller stuff later on, but with CPUs these days being vastly more complex than an 8088 or an M6800, I don't know if it could be dumbed down enough. Perhaps on a virtual machine or something?

Turbo Pascal was an absolutely brilliant language to learn on, and it is a shame Pascal seems to have fallen out of favour. It was powerful enough to write workable programs on, but simple enough to keep a new student from wandering off the cliff edge.

If I was teaching, I'd use perl:

- perl supports multiple syntaxes so you can teach the simple stuff in a straightforward manner
- The fact that it identifies variables and in which context they are being used is a brilliant way to help students separate out what bits are variables/arguments and what bits are code
- The C and sh bits are gateways into C and sh - "C lite"
- You can do some really powerful and *useful* programs in perl, which teaches that programming isn't just the creation of monolithic apps, but a *process* that can be used to solve a single specific problem.
- perl has native regular expressions, and teaching pattern matching opens up a whole new world of problem solving techniques

I can see homework like "Take the provided text file, and write a program that takes it as input and prints out the sentence that has the most vowels in it" or "Write a program that prints a list of the songs in your music library, ordered by date of album release". These programs are easy to write in perl, fun, challenging, and *useful*.

Comment: What is the point? (Score 4, Insightful) 88 88

What was the point of Firefox? IE was free and was a proven and already well-established browser. By your logic, we never should have built Firefox and the Web should have stalled with IE6 in 2002.

The world needs a truly open mobile OS as much as it needed a truly open browser a decade ago. Android is open in name only and Google is hurriedly moving its most lucrative components into closed proprietary services and apps that aren't a part of open source Android. iOS is as closed as everything Apple does. Windows is getting some nice HTML5 support for apps, but not nearly enough. There's clearly an opportunity for HTML5 apps to compete on mobile if someone can build a solid alternative platform to the monopolies and silos we're all stuck with today.

Comment: Re:WMDs? Chemical weapons? Wait, what? (Score 2) 376 376

I doubt I'll have much success in this, but I've tilted and windmills before:

Chemical Weapons are indeed "Weapons of Mass Destruction" - and the key characteristic that makes them so is *indescrimination*.

A straight-up HE bomb (or even a pie-in-the-sky KE weapon) has a known blast radius around its intended target. Pick target, apply Circular Error Probable, apply blast radius, and you now have a circle that pretty accurately defines the amount of damage that weapon will do.

With a Chemical, Nuclear, or Biological weapon, that calculation no longer applies. With each, you get a cloud of contamination whose extent and direction you cannot predict, and - as the contamination is persistant to some degree - you cannot predict the number of unintended exposures to weapon effects after the fact.

A single machine gun, or even a knife, given enough persistance and patience, can indeed kill as many people as any CBRN strike. But unlike the CBRN strike, each person killed will have been done so purpously and with intent - and in the occasion of unintended casualties, those numbers will be small. Not so with a CBRN strike on a military target outside a city, when the wind changes and accidentally contaminates a major populated area..

It is that capability to expose large numbers of non-combatants to weapons effects *indescriminately* from actual combatants that makes these "WMDs"

"Ninety percent of baseball is half mental." -- Yogi Berra

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