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Comment Crowdfunding (Score 1) 359


There's been a huge amount of success with crowdfunding recently -- Kickstarter and Indigogo and so on.The most facile projects can get funded to the tune of millions. Meanwhile venerable old free software projects have been neglected. Has the FSF ever considered starting some crowdfunded projects?

I know people can donate cash to e.g. the FSF directly but it's a black box and hard to emotionally engage with that. Compare for example a specific project that could gain a lot of public momentum -- e.g. a Kickstarter project with a specific goal to increase Emacs' IDE capabilities by paying some extra developers to work on it full time. I'd happily donate some cash in that direction if someone were to launch such a project.

Surely worth an experiment at least? Please take my money :)

Comment Re:Easier to learn != easier to use (Score 2) 382

- No operator overloading. As a result, every container type is accessed differently. Arrays use []. Lists use At(). Hashmaps use Get(). Matrices, vectors, and complex numbers are absurdly verbose, because I cannot overload addition and multiplication.

Arrays are rarely used in Java these days. All the collections API (Bloch's work on this has made it one of the few elegant parts of Java) use .get(), which is perfectly reasonable. If you're doing extensive work with matrices, vectors, etc. then Java is not an ideal choice of language, but 95% of programming tasks don't need it. Java isn't aimed at developing low-level game engines or scientific modelling.

- Type erasure for generics. As a result, I cannot define different function overloads for func(List) and func(List).

At least Java has generics. Unlike some other popular languages I could name... type erasure is a genuine annoyance but it's usually not too painful to work around.

- Lack of first class functions. As a result, callbacks required the absurdity of implementing the Callable interface. This has been improved recently with the addition of lambda statements.

Java is horribly verbose when you need to pass functions around but the new syntactic sugar makes functional programming a lot more viable. Even without it though you can stick to a strictly OO approach. This can make for clunky programming but does have the advantage of being boringly predictable in huge codebases being worked on by lots of coders of varying ability.

- Lack of properties. As a result, I cannot expose anything as public, because I might want to add additional code at some point in the future. Therefore, I must have an explosion of getters/setters.

It's not pretty, but this is a good excuse to make everything as immutable as possible and cut down on data access objects.

I like the idea of having a sandboxed virtual machine. I like the idea of having a single version of the bytecode that can run anywhere. I just can't stand the language.

Java isn't a lot of fun to code in most of the time but it's pretty effective at what it does.

Comment Re:anything but social (Score 2) 394

Civilization has existed for ~12k years, human beings have not changed. Social interaction has not changed

12k years ago we were still in the paeleolithic. We don't have a lot of idea what social interaction was like back then but probably involved a certain amount of smacking each other with sticks and crudely chipped rocks.

In the intervening millennia social interaction has changed out of all recognition.

Your assertion that a chat on Facebook is not being sociable is pretty comical, and if you think it is so unacceptable why are you discussing the issue on slashdot? Surely slashdot is nothing but a geeky social media forum. Why don't you have this discussion with a friend over coffee?

I'll tell you why not: everyone likes social media, but it's just fashionable to tell everyone how superior you are for not caring about it.

Comment Re:Literally? (Score 1) 645

Because moderation is supposed to be for highlighting posts that contribute to the discussion, not for whether we agree with or disagree with posts.

Also, this post you like by an anonymous coward is suggesting a war against Islam. There are more than 1.5 billion muslims in the world; presumably the poster wants them all shot?

Comment Re:Why not push toward collapse? (Score 1) 435

Well, Iraq was pushed to collapse. That did not go so well.

What do you mean? The country was then conquered within months by us. Saddam Hussein himself was then captured, tried publicly, and executed deservingly.

There were over a million deaths by some estimates caused by the invasion. A million! Even if the estimates are off by half, that's an incredible number of people.

Iraq is still in chaos many years later. IS has taken over a lot of the country. The Middle East as a whole was destabilised and has yet to recover.

I'd hate to know what your definition of a catastrophe is.

Comment Re:first (Score 1) 325

I wasn't commenting on the motives of the western countries, nor whether atrocities have been carried out by the rebels (it appears they have, though not on the scale that Assad has). I was replying to the OP who seemed to think the reporting in Syria was all propaganda. The coverage in the media seems to have been reasonably balanced, reporting the abuses of both sides. There has not been the dramatic attempts to control the media by e.g. the US and UK governments that we saw in the Iraq war.

Comment Re:first (Score 1) 325

I've been to Syria recently -- well in the last couple of years, after the start of the revolution. I experienced first hand the extreme corruption, the ever-present secret police, and the aura of fear and intimidation.

Just because some of the information coming out of the country is untrue (how could you not expect some of it to be?) doesn't mean the current state of Syria is propaganda. Most of the reporting is true; the alternative is that every major news organisation, charity and most governments (bar Russia and Iran) are part of some vast conspiracy.

Comment Re:That doesn't seem right. (Score 1) 628

The mirror test is just one test of animal intelligence amongst many.

But it's probably the most important.

Different animals have different strengths in their intelligence, as one would expect - the intellect of each has evolved for different environments.

This is why I said the order is up for debate.

Sorry. Different intelligence tests are correlated so being good at one tends to make you good at another. Humans are unambiguously the smartest and can outwit any other species at practically anything. Chimps/bonobos are next. Although you can quibble about where a particular species is placed, there's certain generalities you can assert.

My list is commonly accepted, but by no means absolute.

No serious researcher in animal intelligence that I know of puts pigs in the top four most intelligent species. Feel free to provide a reference.

Comment Re:Everyone creates arbitrary lines (Score 1) 628

Why is thinking a necessary criterion for suffering?

Consciousness is a necessary requirement for suffering. If an entity can't experience something then it can't suffer from that experience. We can demonstrate this because consciousness is easily disrupted in humans by relatively simple chemicals. Anaesthetised humans do not suffer, even during what would otherwise be traumatic experiences such as medical operations.

Comment Re:That doesn't seem right. (Score 1) 628

But the top 3 animals for intelligence after man are the dolphin, the chimp and the pig

Well this isn't true. There's a few species that pass the mirror test, which is about the highest non-subjective test for intelligence in other species we have. Pigs don't pass the mirror test.

So I'd rank humans, the other great apes (chimps/bonobos, orangs, gorillas), dolphins, orcas and elephants ahead of pigs, and probably other animals too.

If pigs did pass the mirror test I wouldn't eat them (actually I tend to avoid eating pigs anyway because we tend to keep them in such terrible conditions).

Comment Re:Assumptions assumptions (Score 1) 918

1. There is no proof regime used chemical weapons.

No. But "proof" that will satisfy everyone is very hard to come by.

2. Why would regime use chemical weapons ? They're "winning" already..

I think you've answered your own question there with your use of quotes. The regime are looking at the thin end of a potentially multi-decade civil war. There's no prospect of a decisive victory in the forseeable future.

3. Why would regime use chemical weapons ? The rulling party there is NOT stupid, whatever you may think of them. You think they wouldn't know it would come to this (worldwide condemnation) ?

The regime has been torturing kids to death for years with little comeback. It has already achieved worldwide condemnation. The Assad family doesn't care. The only risk to them is military intervention by a superior power but after 100k+ deaths and years of atrocities they don't believe anyone will intervene.

They were quite good friends of many Western countries until quite recently. The US used to give them prisoners to "interrogate". Even after years of brutal repression with much video evidence there are plenty of people on the internet who believe Assad and friends are the good guys.

4. The ruling party have majority of peoples votes. Why would they undermine that ?

Elections in Syria are meaningless charades, of minor use to the regime as a rubber-stamp only.

5. Why would they allow UN to come inspect the site then shoot at them ?

It doesn't seem to be in either the rebel's or the regime's interests to shoot at the UN. It seems likely that this was an error by one group or another.

It seems entirely plausible and in character for the regime to use chemical weapons. They have the stocks and a history of being willing to use extreme brutality.

The idea that the rebels have launched the attack in an attempt to blame the regime is somewhat plausible. They are desperate enough and some of their elements seem to be capable of acts of harshness approaching that of the regime. However the attacks were in rebel-held areas and there is no evidence of the rebels gaining any chemical weapons.

I think it's rather more likely that the regime made the attacks based on past history and circumstantial evidence, but we don't have very much in the way of proof either way.

Everybody needs a little love sometime; stop hacking and fall in love!