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Comment: Re:another language shoved down your throat (Score 1) 412

by Xtifr (#47434707) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

In your non-Python language of choice, how do you tell the difference between an error in indentation and an error in marking the beginning and ending of blocks?

Difference? There is no difference! I don't indent! I mark the beginning and end of blocks, and the code is automatically indented to match. I can, with some difficulty, defeat this mechanism, but I can't think of any reason why I'd want to.

Comment: Re: another language shoved down your throat (Score 1) 412

by Xtifr (#47434575) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

You're free to dislike the way Python handles blocks and white space.

Thank you. Not that I needed your permission, but I shall indeed continue to consider it an idiotic design.

But if it actually substantially affects your productivity, you're simply not a very good programmer, because it's not a big deal in practice.

Agreed. However the fact that it doesn't noticably harm my productivity doesn't mean it's a good feature.

In any case, we're discussing its potential use as a teaching language here, and people who are just starting to learn to program are, pretty much by definition, not good programers. So its impact on not-good-programmers is still very relevant.

Comment: Re:Well out running the police ... (Score 1) 411

by Xtifr (#47434449) Attached to: The First Person Ever To Die In a Tesla Is a Guy Who Stole One

Except there are people who survived crashes at much higher speeds.

There are people who have survived jumping out of "perfectly good" airplanes without a functioning parachute. Doesn't mean you should take up skydiving-without-a-parachute as a hobby. :)

There's a reason cases like you mention make the news: surviving a crash at those speeds is an impressive and newsworthy feat. (The reason this case made the news was not the fact that the driver died, but the fact that a Tesla was involved. Otherwise, it seems like a pretty unremarkable story.)

Richard Hammond of Top Gear UK fame survived a crash at 288 mph

And I bet he was buckled in. Remaining in the vehicle during a high-speed crash greatly increases your chances of survival. Exiting a vehicle at 100+ mph is generally contraindicated! (Tip for future reference.) ;)

Comment: Re:Repercussions? (Score 2) 107

They have shown that they can not be trusted. They must lose the power to do this.

Pull someones certificates or kill some CA. Someone needs to suffer because of this.

What happens now is that there's an investigation. Depending on the outcome the CA may be revoked for good, or merely forced to reissue lots of certificates. The deciding factor is the reason for the screwup - for instance they may have got hacked, rather than been actively corrupt. In that case Microsoft will have to decide if they have patched things up enough to continue as part of their root store program or whether to pull the plug. I doubt many people have certs issued by this CA so the damage would be relatively minimal.

Unfortunately you can't just kill any CA that screws up. For one, if the CA was widely used it'd be disrupted. For another, nothing is unhackable, especially when you get the NSA involved. Expecting CA's to be able to reliably fight off professional hackers from dozens of governments and never ever fail is likely an impossible standard to ever meet.

Hard decisions ahead for browser and OS makers for sure ...

Comment: Re:Disappointing (Score 1) 93

by IamTheRealMike (#47423211) Attached to: Single European Copyright Title On the Horizon

This seems to be quite typical for government consultations. There's very little in the way of rigorous process. I remember years ago in the UK there was some poll that showed people were worried about anti-money laundering laws and their effect on freedom and civil liberties (it was a poll about risks to civil liberties, Ithink). So the British government said they'd respond to this by ordering a consultation on how best to improve Britain's AML laws. They invited public comments, etc. 6 months later the consultation was published and it recommended making the laws even stricter. There was absolutely no evidence-based approach used at all.

Comment: Re:another language shoved down your throat (Score 4, Insightful) 412

by Xtifr (#47411369) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

Have you ever been fooled by incorrect indentation that didn't compile the way it looked?

Nope. My editor takes care of indentation for me, in every common language except Python, and when I have to deal with a batch of code written by someone else, I run it through indent(1) first. So, in fact, it's just the opposite: when the indentation doesn't match what I expect, I know there's an actual problem in the code!

With Python, on the other hand, I'm actually more likely to have an error in the indenting, because there's no easy way to see how many blocks I'm terminating when I outdent by an arbitrary amount. Which is a real PITA when you're refactoring.

Of course, things may be different if you're using crappy tools. But professionals shouldn't be using crappy tools.

Brackets, begin..end, and semicolons are crutches for compiler writers not programmers.

No, they're tools to make my job easier. Whatever the historical reason for them may be, they benefit the programmer! They make me more productive.

Now, I'll grant that Python is a remarkably good language despite its horrible flaw of relying on indentation. And many of its good features also make me more productive. But that doesn't mean that relying on the indentation isn't a horrible flaw.

Comment: Re:In a watch, batteries should last a year or mor (Score 1) 129

by IamTheRealMike (#47400139) Attached to: Android Wear Is Here

I remember people said the same about smartphones. Waah, the battery only lasts a day, I'll never use one of those. Somehow smartphones still took over the world. People do go to sleep every night - a nice cordless charging stand seems like a relatively small issue if the devices are genuinely useful.

Comment: Re:It's here already? (Score 1) 160

by IamTheRealMike (#47400125) Attached to: The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers

That's not quite how I remember Manna.

The reason the American economy is trashed in the world Manna envisions is not because it's run by an AI but because America failed to adjust to a post-work society. Everyone is on social security/benefits, because hardly anyone has a job as it was all automated away or pirated. So people have a kind of futuristic subsistence lifestyle in which robots attend to their basic needs but they can never get anything more.

The Australia project, on the other hand, is not meant to be communist. It's meant to be a society where your having a job was disconnected from you having social value. It's a society that prioritises leisure time and finds other ways to allocate the few scarce resources that are left in ways that aren't money. Communism as a term is too heavily linked with the real-world implementations in the Soviet union to be useful for describing this state of affairs.

IIRC at the end the story goes off on a bit of a tangent and all the Australians just end up having VR sex all day or something. Not a great ending. But I remember Manna kind of blew my mind when I first read it, and its prediction that robots/computers would replace middle management before the toilet cleaners was (to me) very new and obviously correct. Indeed that's what this story is about.

Comment: Re:You have to feel sorry for Edward.. (Score 2) 201

I think you massively overestimate how bad Russia is, especially compared to the USA.

Snowden is 30 and newly single. Russia is a large country that is notorious for its abundance of highly educated and attractive women. It has quite a few famous and sophisticated software companies, especially in the security realm that Snowden likes. 143 million people manage to live there without going crazy.

Of all the places in the world to have landed, Russia is definitely not the worst. Heck it's probably the best place he could have landed. I guess he was trying to get to Ecuador but they don't have the stones Putin does, nor is it a large country, nor does it have any noted IT firms.

Comment: Re:What haven't they lied about? (Score 1) 201

Probably nothing can be done to stop it in the short to medium term. I suspect that many years from now historians will look back and see this as just a phase humanity had to go through, kind of like the evolution from monarchy to democracy.

It's clear that the power to know everything about everyone has gone to the heads of the political class so badly that they'll never give it up. They'll always find a justification and any "reasonable compromise" that is arrived at won't be what we had 40-50 years ago (i.e. no total surveillance) even though that seemed to work OK, it'll be "slightly less than totalitarian surveillance, sorta, unless there's a good reason for it".

So for now we're stuck with it. The geek in me wants to believe that what starts with Snowden is an epic and very long struggle to design technology to make it surveillance-proof, which will inevitably result in some kind of (hopefully mostly non-violent) quasi civil war a la the monarchists vs parliamentarians. Governments will fight back hard and eventually the fact that technology needs to be government-proof will become as widely accepted a principle as the free press being government-proof. But it will take a loooooong time. Probably longer than any of us will be alive.

The cynic in me says we're all boned and 1984 has arrived.

Comment: Re:The Spin (Score 5, Insightful) 201

I think it's smart. Lots and lots of people don't respond to stories that are technical and abstract. OK so they spy on people using "tor" with "selectors" yawn change channel *zap*.

Human interest stories are different. This story might reach a whole audience who just couldn't find it in themselves to care until now. But ooooh juicy details about someone's romance with a jihadist, interesting, and huh .... wait. They could get that stuff on anyone, couldn't they. They could get that on me.

So this story could prompt the housewives of America to care more than perhaps they have so far.

Comment: Re:How are they going to get proof? (Score 1) 65

by IamTheRealMike (#47370457) Attached to: Seven ISPs Take Legal Action Against GCHQ

LOL. This is the intelligence world we're talking about. There are no courts.

This particular complaint will be heard by a special tribunal that meets in secret, makes secret decisions, and has ruled against the intelligence agencies in less than 1% of all cases it's heard - they do publish the fact that a hearing took place, mostly, we think, of course if they didn't we'd have know way to know so the real number is probably much less than 1%.

The UK has much worse accountability structures in place than even the FISA court, and that's a kangaroo court that's a fucking joke. So this complaint will go exactly nowhere. I have to assume at that point they'll try to go to the EU level, but of course nothing really ensures the outcome will be any different there either.

Comment: Re:The problem with Bitcoin (Score 1) 115

by IamTheRealMike (#47370431) Attached to: Investor Tim Draper Announces He Won Silk Road Bitcoin Auction

Bitcoin is deflationary in a world with increasing population. Also BTC has made land grabbers and early adopters rich - it doesnt look like the currency of the future to me.

No - if you're talking about money supply then Bitcoin is inflationary until it stabilises. What happens to prices in the meantime is anyone's guess. So far the price has gone up, it's gone down. Over the long run it's got a lot more valuable, but that's a temporary artifact caused by the novelty of an actually working e-cash system. Nobody really knows where the value will end up, but one day Bitcoin will be boring and all the issues it raises will have been resolved. At that point the price should be stable unless the Bitcoin economy is growing, in which case falling prices is the behaviour you would intuitively expect had you not been propagandised by central bankers into believing that as a society gets wealthier everything is supposed to get more expensive.

With respect to "land grabbers and early adopters", yes, it has made some of them rich. It could also make them poor again if the price collapses. If it doesn't, then it's no different than the internet which also minted an entire generation of nouveau riche, but that's OK, we can tolerate a temporary increase in inequality in return for something like the internet. It gets balanced out eventually anyway, as none of those new millionaires fancy the idea of establishing a dynasty.

Anything free is worth what you pay for it.